Several organizations are teaming up to provide at-risk Midlothian High School students with the school supplies they need to succeed.

The Midlothian High School Interact Club, Salvation Army of Ellis County, MHS mentoring program Movement Toward a Future and the A.H. Meadows public and school library have come together to “Build-A-Backpack.”

The program is designed to use Movement Toward a Future mentors and school counselors to discreetly supply high schoolers with their basic school supplies and a backpack. Even students who haven't been identified as “at risk” can approach a teacher or counselor to receive the supplies they need.

“There are some students that walk around the halls without a backpack, and it might seem like they're just trying to be cool but that's really not the case,” Movement Toward a Future Director Dena Petty said. “It's because they don't have a backpack or the school supplies they need. Sometimes they're ashamed and don't want to come forward and ask.”

Petty said some of the at-risk students in the mentoring program don't have parental support, the financial means to buy what they need or just simply don't know how to prepare themselves to succeed.

That is when the Interact Club decided to lend a helping hand to their peers in a way that wouldn't cause shame or bullying.

“It feels great to help students in need who otherwise wouldn't get what they need to be prepared to learn,” Club president Will Copell said.

The club began their Build-A-Backpack campaign to collect school supplies and backpacks with the A.H. Meadows Library. Head Librarian Susie Casstevens started up a drive – bring in school supplies and erase your late fines. While the drive is helping to stock Petty's office, conveniently located in the library, with supplies the Interact Club needed a boost.

Midlothian Rotarian and Salvation Army volunteer Ann Zembala spoke with Interact sponsor Kristin DeLoach at a recent Rotary meeting.

“I asked Kristin if there was any help she needed with the Interact Club, because I worked at a high school and love kids. That's when she told me about the program and asked if the Salvation Army could help with school supplies,” Zembala said.

She describes the coming together of these organizations and individuals as a “match made in heaven,” because what happened the very next day was “a miracle.”

“The next day Commander Lt. Frankie (Zuniga) went to the Dallas (headquarters) and came back with 60 backpacks,” she said, adding that providing school supplies is one of the Dallas Corps major initiatives this year. “It was a miracle, and I didn't even realize at first that they were all filled with school supplies.”

The Salvation Army delivered the backpacks to the Interact Club and Petty, who has already started supplying students.

“Networking is how great things happen,” Petty said. “We can all do good things on our own, but when we come together that's how great things happen.”

To donate school supplies to Build-A-Backpack, drop them off at the librarian's desk at A.H. Meadows Library, 923 S. 9th St. in Midlothian.