Operation Back 2 School Distributes School Supplies to Katy Elementary Students

Bear Creek Elementary staff, front row left to right, Brittney Merz, LaTwanda Wilson, and Karen Baker, and back row, left to right, Ana Alvarez, Carol Gallagher, Carla Gomez, Principal Lorena Zertuche, and Mary Manceaux – Covering Katy/George Slaughter photo

CITY OF KATY (Covering Katy News)—Of all the ways one might describe Compassion Katy’s Operation Back 2 School Event Saturday, Sue Hetrick, the executive director, summarized it best: “Organized chaos, filled with love.”

The event, held at the Leonard E. Merrill Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane, featured the distribution of backpacks, school supplies, and other resources and services to selected Katy Independent School District elementary school students.

Compassion Katy, the event organizer, is a 501(C)3 nonprofit organization that works to connect local churches, businesses, and Katy area nonprofits.

The “organized chaos, filled with love” is growing. Last year, Operation Back 2 School focused on students at Sundown Elementary, 20100 Saums Road. This year, the program grew to include seven more Title 1 schools.

Katy Ward A City Council Member Janet Corte gives Sundown Elementary student Grace Manneh some school supplies – Covering Katy/George Slaughter photo

Compassion Katy partnered with the Katy Independent School District to identify and help students at eight of its more economically damaged elementary schools. In addition to Sundown Elementary, those schools were:

– Bear Creek Elementary, 4815 Hickory Downs Dr.

– Franz Elementary, 2751 Westgreen Blvd.

– Hutsell Elementary, 5630 Franz Road

– Mayde Creek Elementary, 2698 Greenhouse Road

– Rhoads Elementary, 19711 Clay Road

– Schmalz Elementary, 18605 Green Land Way

– Stephens Elementary, 2715 Fry Road

Next year, the goal is to help the students at all 17 KISD Title 1 elementary schools.

Katy ISD Police Officer Shannon Dresser, who will be competing in the Mrs. Texas Pageant in October poses with her husband Chance Jackowski – Covering Katy/George Slaughter photo

Bear Creek Elementary principal Lorena Zertuche said the program makes a “huge” difference to her students, who begin school August 15.

“Our families are so appreciative of the support,” Zertuche said. “A year ago, I was at Sundown Elementary, checking the event and talking about doing something for Bear Creek. It’s heartwarming that Compassion Katy would be able to help so many people.”

Harris County Precinct 5 Constables William Rogers, left, and Frank Salas visit with Ana Chavez – Covering Katy/George Slaughter photo

While Operation Back 2 School makes a difference for the students and families it serves, it also makes a difference for the volunteers who work there. Numerous Katy businesses made contributions for the supplies. Others provided food for the volunteers working at Saturday’s event.

“Volunteer appreciation is very important,” Hetrick said.

Freddy the Fire Truck made an appearance at Compassion Katy’s Operation Back 2 School distribution event Saturday – Covering Katy/George Slaughter photo

Volunteers came from a number of organizations. Officers from the Katy Independent School District Police Department, the City of Katy Police Department, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Department also helped with the distribution. The Katy Fire Department also provided volunteers and parked a couple of its vehicles outside for viewing. Its remote-controlled “Freddy the Fire Truck” made the rounds inside as students waited in line for their supplies.

Volunteer Monika Casella, left, visits with a student at the Compassion Katy Operation Back 2 School distribution event – Covering Katy/George Slaughter photo

Volunteer Monika Casella works for Christ Clinic and described Saturday’s event as awesome.

“I think this is how a community is really supposed to look,” Casella said. “It’s an ideal situation where people get to know each and they can get all their needs taken care of by each other, that you actually have a face, not just, ‘here’s a package.’ You can actually meet the people.”

Parents joined their children at the Compassion Katy Operation Back 2 School collection event Saturday at the Merrill Center – Covering Katy/George Slaughter photo

Compassion Katy continues to accept donations and provide help. For more information, contact Compassion Katy at info@compassionkaty.org.

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