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Knoxville REALTORS help Youth Villages kids go back to school with the right supplies

October 4, 2010

Volunteer Christie Pattie, left, and her daughter, Emily, stand behind donated backpacks loaded with school supplies with Youth Villages’ Melissa Jackson and Gary Johnson.

The first days of school are important. From kindergarten to senior year, the first week is one of excitement and anxiety. From what children wear, to how they walk, talk, look and behave, they are under scrutiny from peers and adults alike.

School should be fun. Children shouldn’t worry about having needed supplies.

Helen Carter, right, executive vice president of the Knoxville Area Association of REALTORS®, stands with Jolynn Newhouse and Teresa Tillery.

Being prepared and ready lends a confidence that can set the year off right. In East Tennessee, young people receiving in-home services received backpacks filled with essential supplies for the school year.

Two years ago, Gary Johnson, Youth Villages East Tennessee development manager, contacted Helen Carter, executive vice president of the Knoxville Area Association of REALTORS®.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Carter said. “But he simply asked if we were interested in helping children.”

From that call, Backpack Heroes has reached nearly 100 children across East Tennessee, providing them with school supplies stuffed into a backpack.

“The response from KAAR and REALTORS® was unbelievable,” Johnson said. “This partnership wouldn’t be possible without the enthusiasm and overwhelming support of KAAR staff and member REALTORS®.”

This year, Backpack Heroes outfitted about 40 children receiving in-home services from Youth Villages. Jolynn Newhouse and Teresa Tillery were responsible for getting KAAR members to help children in their area.

“It’s a wonderful program,” Newhouse said. “You don’t really think about children needing supplies and a pack, but they mean so much to a child.”

“Many of us have adult children, so it was neat for us to be able to go out and buy school supplies again,” Tillery said.

“We made sure every child on the list received a pack and class-appropriate supplies.”

Protractors, pencils, pens, rulers, lunchboxes, nap pads and more were given to school counselors to then give to the young people.

“We sent a notice to our brokers that there were children in their communities who needed help,” Carter said. “Their response was awesome.”

Plans are under way to potentially outfit more children next year. Carter said it makes sense for a REALTOR® to help.

“We live and work in our communities, which makes them easy to sell,” Carter said. “Because of that, it’s a natural fit for us to respond to a need. We’re proud to help our community, but more importantly, our children.”

Contributions to Youth Villages support programs that give emotionally troubled children the best chance of success. By supporting Youth Villages, you help children and families live successfully. You can make a secure, online gift at youthvillages.org.

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