(Crystal A. Proxmire, July 10, 2013)
When volunteers arrived at the Operation Kid Equip. headquarters in Clinton Township on Wednesday, they expected to begin sorting the massive amounts of items for their various statewide programs that equip low income students with pens, paper, crayons, backpacks, books and other supplies for the school year. Instead they found that tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of donated items had been destroyed by a flood in the building.
Menachem Michael Kniespeck, Director of Operation Kid Equip, said that instead he and a crew of volunteers from Michigan Works spent the day tearing up carpet, moving furniture and sorting through the damaged supplies.
“I came in and the first thing I noticed was the squish squish sound in the carpet,” he said. “We had heavy rains come through the night before and we were flooded from the back door to the front. It was two to three inches deep in some places.”
Kniespeck said that the piles paper and the cardboard boxes soaked up water from the floor through the course of the night. “Thankfully it was only rainwater, so it isn’t too gross or anything, but with paper we can’t just dry it out and re-use it. We’re giving it to kids so we need to worry about mold and getting kids sick.”
The organization recently moved from Troy to Clinton Township, and they serve young students throughout the state. One program has identified 38,000 homeless youth across Michigan who were slated to get backpacks full of supplies. In SE Michigan they focus on low-income children, doing their best to equip the 61,000 kids in Macomb County, 66,000 kids in Oakland County and 178,000 kids in Wayne County. Students in Hazel Park and Ferndale Schools are among those who take part in the school supply program.
“There could not be a worse time for this. Back to school season starts two weeks after the 4th of July. Kids are getting ready to go back to school and for many this is how they are able to do it,” Kniespeck said.
Insurance will only cover furniture and fixtures, not donations, he said. In addition to figuring out how to clean up the space, he’s setting his sights on how to replace the supplies that are needed for the quickly-approaching school year.
Drop off locations throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties are listed on the group’s website at http://operationkidequip.org/supply-drive/supply-drop-off-locations/, and include Sign-A-Rama in Troy, Municipal Health Services in Pontiac, and Catching Fireflies in Rochester and Berkley.
But financial donations have the biggest impact. Because of Operation Kid Equip’s bulk buying power, they are able to stretch a dollar into an average of $19 worth of supplies. Kniespeck also expects that they may be able to get large donations and bulk discounts from out of state, but that they may have to pay for shipping charges. Donations can be made online at http://operationkidequip.org/donate/.
Operation Kid Equip has a vision. It says, “We believe one pencil can rewrite a future. We envision a community where every child feels valued, and has the tools and support needed to become a literate, self-supporting adult, capable of sharing his or her unique gifts with the world.” Learn more at http://operationkidequip.org or follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/okequip.
For previous stories on Operation Kid Equip See: