‘Sometimes it’s a choice between school supplies and food’

FAIRBURY - Four years ago, Don Cook and members of the Fairbury Community Foundation held a backpack drive. Now, they provide students and teachers with all the school supplies they need for the entire year. As a result, no student or family is required to purchase school supplies if they don’t want to.

“Sometimes, it’s a choice between do you want to buy food or do you want to buy school supplies,” Don Cook, President of the Fairbury community Foundation, said. “We want the kids to have the school supplies and the food.”

After just providing backpacks with a few other pieces of supplies, the foundation quickly realized they could do more.“We learned that the teachers have requirements of the school supplies kids should have,” Cook said. “After that first year, we began to go to the teachers and schools to get a list of the things the kids needed.”

Today, the foundation held their annual school supplies drive at Central Elementary in Fairbury and much more than just backpacks were donated. This was made possible by strong outreach by the community and the foundation.

“We branched out a little bit in our asking through corporations and grants,” Cook said. “We received those funds, so we were able to buy everything that the school teachers requested on their school list and provide it.”

Cook and the foundation’s generosity does not go unnoticed as they receive gratitude on their website and from local school faculty. However, all Cook wants is for students to have what they need to excel in the classroom.

“I hope the kids enjoy having what they need to start out the school year and that the parents know we’re just here to help,” Cook said.

School begins for Fairbury and Meridian on Wednesday, August 18.