First Call signing up eligible kids to receive free backpacks

Linn Ann Huntington
Special to Hays Daily News

First Call for Help, 607 E. 13th St., is celebrating its 25th year of providing Backpacks for Kids.

Students must attend school in Ellis County in grades pre-K through high school in order to be eligible for the program. Plus, their families must be low-income or must have experienced some type of hardship in the last year, said Laura Shoaff, project coordinator.

Each eligible student will receive a free new backpack filled with school supplies and personal hygiene items.

Families may register their child for a backpack in one of three ways: going to, or calling (785) 623-2800, or turning in the form from their child’s school, Shoaff said. The signup deadline is Monday, July 26.

Backpacks for pre-registered children will be distributed from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, at First Presbyterian Church, 2900 Hall St. Shoaff said around 600 backpacks are passed out each year.

Any leftover backpacks will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, at the same location.

Individuals wanting to contribute items are asked to provide new items from the following list: 3 x 3 sticky notes, any colors; small headphones/earbuds; combination locks; 8-10 Crayola washable markers; 12-pack colored pencils; glue sticks (no gel); white glue (4-oz. Elmers); 2-pocket folders; large pink or white erasers; tab index folders; new backpacks (no wheels); 24-pack Crayola crayons; 1” three-ring binders; plastic school boxes/pencil bags; watercolor paints; Highlighters and dry erase markers; composition notebooks; pointed scissors; #2 yellow pencils; notebook paper (wide and college ruled); one-subject spiral notebooks (wide and college ruled); hygiene items (male and female) shampoo; deodorant; and bar soap.

Items may be brought to the First Call office, or to one of the churches in Ellis County that is collecting supplies. The deadline for dropping off items is Thursday, July 15.

Shoaff said that volunteers are needed to help pack the backpacks and help distribute them. Those wishing to volunteer may call her at (785) 623-2800 to sign up. Shoaff said some local firms, such as Golden Belt Bank, have already been providing volunteers this past week. 

Individuals may also make financial contributions by mailing or taking a check to the above address and writing B4K or Backpacks For Kids in the memo line on their check.

Shoaff said the following companies have also made donations: Delta Dental provided 750 dental hygiene bags containing toothpaste, toothbrushes and dental floss; Blue Cross/Blue Shield provided $1,500 for shampoo, deodorant and soap; Midwest Energy donated $1,000; and Midwestern Pipeworks donated $1,000.

Chaplain to speak at Hays Episcopal Churches

Ruth Price, a chaplain at HaysMed, will be the guest speaker at the two Episcopal churches in Hays on Sunday, July 11.

Price will speak at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2420 Hyacinth Ave., at 8 a.m. and then speak at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 2900 Canal Blvd., at 10 a.m.

Price of Hays has a Bachelors Degree in Biblical Theology and a Masters Degree in Spiritual Formation, both from Barclay College in Haviland, Kan. She has served at HaysMed since January 2020.

Hays Methodist Church sponsoring blood drive

Hays First United Methodist Church, 305 W. Seventh, will hold an American Red Cross blood drive from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 12.

Individuals may call (785) 625-3408 to make an appointment.

Free event to highlight Hispanic culture

United Way of Ellis County will present “Tardeada: Community Late Fest” from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 31, at the Downtown Pavilion, 10th and Main.

Meleny Jacome-Baneulos, who organized the free event, said in a news release, “We want to welcome everyone to a day filled with music, face painting, bingo, drinks, learning about the Hispanic culture, and more.”

The event will also feature a dance, which will begin at 6 p.m. The community is invited.

Jacome-Baneulos, who is serving as an intern with the United Way this summer, will be a senior at Fort Hays State University this fall. She is majoring in Organizational Leadership and minoring in Music.