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Nonprofits prepare for back-to-school giveaways despite Dallas ISD push for clear, mesh backpacks

The school district's plan to require clear or mesh backpacks for secondary students comes after some nonprofits already ordered thousands of back-to-school items.

DALLAS — Many nonprofit organizations across North Texas are planning and preparing for back-to-school festivals and school supply giveaway events.

Staff and interns at the Dallas-based nonprofit For Oak Cliff are busy preparing for the organization’s eighth annual Back-to-School Festival. A storage room at the center is piling with boxes filled with backpacks.

“It’s very family oriented, when we have this Back-to-School Festival,” said For Oak Cliff Co-Founder Devin Smith.

The For Oak Cliff team will stuff about 5,000 backpacks with school supplies as they prepare for the big event.

“It’s been a lot of preparation to get here,” said Taylor Toynes, a For Oak Cliff Founder.

Supplying backpacks and school supplies helps many families eliminate barriers. By providing needed resources, they do not have to worry about financing, especially with inflation on the rise.

“For a student to be most prepared in the classroom, they need to be equipped,” Toynes explained.

Dallas Independent School District announced, last week, that the use of clear or mesh backpacks will now be required for secondary students in the 2022-2023 school year. That move is putting somewhat of a wrinkle in plans for nonprofits hosting back-to-school giveaways.

“The shipment started to come in last week. The backpacks were ordered in May, because of the supply chain breakdowns that exist,” Toynes explained.

Dallas ISD said the shift to clear and mesh backpacks is about making schools safer. The decision was made after publishing a survey to get parents’ feedback on the issue.

Some nonprofits, like For Oak Cliff, ordered supplies months ago. Many students may not be able to take the traditional backpacks to campus.

Some senior Dallas ISD students say they don’t believe they’ll feel safer using clear backpacks on campus.

“It’s not about what type of backpack they’re carrying. It’s about what mindset they have,” one student said.

For now, the staff and interns at For Oak Cliff said they’re focused on pushing forward with their annual back-to-school festival. They believe students receiving the brand new traditional backpacks will still find ways to put them to great use.

The For Oak Cliff Back-to-School Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, August 13, at Glendale Park in Dallas.

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