Hickman Mills school supply drive still in need of essentials to fill backpacks for students

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For Sharece Shelby's daughter Rihana, 9, going back to school is an exciting time.

"I want to math and stuff in fourth grade and reading. I want to talk to people," Rihana said.

But it's a scary time for her mother, Sharece, who has six children of her own and who cares for six other children, that need school supplies.

"They need shoes, clothing and some of things are hard to come by and get. For me it’s a hard struggle plus the kids I help out," Sharece said.

And she is not alone. All 6,300 students in the Hickman Mills School District are on free or reduced lunch, meaning money is tight for families.

"It’s not just the back to school rally for us, it’s all year and these families struggle to make ends meat every single day. It’s not just before the back to school rally," Hayet Woods, principal of Symington Elementary School, said.

Principal Woods said the district's annual Back to School Rally is essential for students to get the supplies they need, but bad luck has left many of the 800 backpacks the district was planning to give away empty.

From what people have already given, I would say we could fill 25 to 50 backpacks. We have less than $1,000 right now and a lot of that has come in the form of supplies," Principal Woods said.

The district is now reaching out to the community to help fill those bags before students line up to take them home.

"I pictured my students not having anything. Like you open that backpack, because it’s brand new and you smell it, but you reach in and there is nothing. I couldn’t do that, " Wood said.

And to help parents, such as Sharece, make sure their children can go to school ready and prepared to learn.

"It takes a lot of weight off of me. It takes a lot off of my back. I’m so happy, it helps me a whole lot," Sharece said.

Anyone interested in donating supplies can contact Ruth Terrell-Lee, Director of Public Information and partnerships for the Hickman Mills C-1 School district at 816-316-7000 or Ruthtt@hickmanmills.org.