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Stuffed backpacks spark back-to-school glee, at Grout Elementary

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Teresa Salazar and Bobbi Braaten, of gift sponsor Cook Security Group, present new backpacks to Grout School students.As students settled in for another school year at Daniel Grout Elementary School on Holgate Boulevard in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood, their daily routine was broken, on September 7th, by a special assembly – at which they were each given a backpack, stuffed with school supplies.

The project, spearheaded by nonprofit “Schoolhouse Supplies”, operates a free “store”, where teachers can get the materials they need to teach in the classroom.

“We also were run a program for elementary school students, where we directly serve the kids with backpacks full of supplies,” Schoolhouse Supplies Development Director Rachel Sample told THE BEE.

“The focus is on the schools where there is a large percentage of need in the community,” Sample explained. “We do this by partnering with generous corporations in town. Each company sponsors a school – but more than that, their employees help fill the backpacks, and then present them to the students!”

Grout’s benefactor this year was Cook Security Group of Milwaukie.

“We are a family-owned company,” remarked the company’s VP of Operations, John Brase, as he arrived with about a dozen employees.

“We do want to give back to our community,” Brase added. “When we found the opportunity to do something that would help kids – most of us are parents – we wanted to participate.”

This has been their fifth year participating in the program, Brase added. “The chance to do something for these kids, and give them school supplies to help them off to a good start for the year, and to help them learn, is incredibly rewarding.”

Grout Elementary School Principal Susan McElroy was all smiles, as she prepared to begin the special assembly.

“Getting this generous gift really helps out our families,” McElroy reflected. “It’s such a relief for parents, after they see their child’s school supply list – to learn that these are the things that will be provided for the kids in their backpacks. The parents are very grateful.”

The 1 pm bell signaled the start of the assembly, and the students filed in room by room, and did their best to quietly take their seats in the school auditorium.

When time came to receive the backpacks, many of the students handed the staff of their benefactors a hand-made “thank-you” card. Everyone left happy and content.

To find out more about “Schoolhouse Supplies”, visit their Internet website: HYPERLINK "http://www.schoolhousesupplies.org/"www.schoolhousesupplies.org