Every year at about this time, parents face a stack of back-to-school bills: supplies, fees, lunch cards, new clothes.
For some, those costs don’t put much strain on the family’s pocketbook, but for a growing proportion of families in Johnson County, they pose significant financial stress.
“I just have one [kid in school],” said Ann Lilak, chair of the Prairie Village Foundation, “and it gets expensive. We’re fortunate enough to be able to handle it. But not everybody is. There are some people who are going through some harder times.”
As a way to help some Prairie Village families get through the challenge of paying back-to-school bills, Lilak helped organize a new program with Consolidated Fire District No. 2 this year. The “Back to School with a Firefighter Program” is similar to the “Shop with a Cop” program the foundation and the Prairie Village Police Department operate each December, but is focused on school supplies and clothes instead of holiday shopping.
Last Thursday, five Prairie Village kids met CFD2 firefighters at Station 21 in Mission and got a tour of the station before hopping on a fire engine for a ride up to the Mission Target. There, the students, who attend Briarwood, Corinth and Tomahawk Elementaries, paired up with firefighters to get their school supplies and new clothing.
The firefighters’ union contributed $100 per child for the Target shopping trip, and the Prairie Village Foundation contributed another $100 per child. Target gave the kids some shopping money as well. Great Southern Bank in Prairie Village also donated gift cards to Off Broadway Shoes and Macy’s for additional clothing, and Avelluto’s Italian Delight in Mission donated dinner for the kids at the station after the shopping was done.
Jason Waller of CFD2 said the fire department was thrilled to get to play a part in the event.
“We were all in right off the bat,” Waller said. “It’s not hard to help people.”
Lilak said she hoped the help the groups provided would make back-to-school easier for the families.
“Now the children can concentrate on learning and meeting new friends at school,” she said.