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Summer Fun Backpacks aims to give homeless students a better summer vacation

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Updated: 4/23/2013 6:55 pm
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Summer vacation is usually a time for students to take a break from the books but it is also a critical time for them to stay ahead academically.

One local non-profit group is making sure homeless children get the support they need when they're not in class.

It's called the "Summer Fun Backpacks" initiative and it is currently receiving donations of books, puzzles and other activities.

The initiative has benefited families like Bethany Kimball's.

For the past year and half she and her three children have lived at the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of St. Johns County.

"They do a lot for the families here. I probably couldn't have done it without them," said Bethany Kimball, mother.

JCP Cares is in charge of putting it all together with the help of Aid & Support for Students in Sudden Transition (ASSIST). JCP Cares' vice president says this program is vital to bridge the gap for less fortunate students in the summer months.

"During the school year they're able to go to school, get transportation, take the meal programs. People are watching out making sure they get educated, in the summer they're not there," said Meg Balke, Vice President, JCP Cares.

Last year, "Summer Fun Backpacks" generated more than $15,000 in charitable donations. This year they hope to double that amount.

"It's not their choice that this is their living situation whatever it may be. If they're waiting for foster placement or living with a grandparent because their parents got evicted, that's not their fault and they should have fun too," said Balke.

While Kimball tries to get back on her feet, she's glad programs like these will at least give her kids a chance at a better future.

"I hope they can get a good education and go to college, get good jobs and be successful productive adults," said Kimball.

May 1st is the last day to donate. The backpacks will be delivered to the St. Johns County School District for distribution on the last week of school.

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