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Backpacks of free school supplies help offset COVID concerns

Long tables with backpacks on them, ready to be handed out
Mike Desmond
Backpacks full of school supplies were readied for 600 children in the Kenfield-Langfield neighborhood Sunday.

Lots of parents and kids took time out from a summer Sunday afternoon to be reminded those lazy, crazy days are running down. They were in line to get new backpacks filled with school supplies.

It's an important savings for the residents of the surrounding Kenfield and Langfield projects in Buffalo. The 600 filled backpacks were appreciated by the parents and grandparents, but many remained worried about returning to school and in-person classes, as COVID-19 roars back.

Jacquie said she doesn't think the problems are resolved.

"Not really, because I feel like they don't have it under control yet. So what can you do?" she said. "I have several grandkids that's going to school. Put your mask on."

Young girls and their mother carry book bags
Rasheed Wyatt
This family received three backpacks of school supplies.

Jessica said it's going to be difficult for her son after a year online.

"Just started doing the ABCs and learn how to write and now we gotta start to bump him up to second grade where he's supposed to be doing math and it's a little difficult," she said.

This area around Kenfield and Langfield also has poor web access. Parents said that was been a problem until the school district distributed additional electronic equipment.

There were a lot of masks visible, although perhaps less concern since the event was outside. It was sponsored by University Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt, American Medical Response, KeyBank, County Legislature Chair April Baskin and deli owners in the area.

"The pandemic has really hit a lot of folks and I hear the cost of the school supplies is only increasing," said Wyatt. "So this is an opportunity for them to really be able focus on their children's education and not worry about coming up with a few dollars to get their school supplies."

"It's great to see local businesses chipping in to give to a worthy cause," said AMR Regional Director Tim Frost. "The school year's about ready to kick off. This is a relatively low expense way to give back to others and to make a difference in other people's lives."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.