Each fall, as school gets closer, parents take their children on what has become a ritual – back-to-school shopping trips. Many of us take this for granted as something we have to do in order to prepare our children to excel academically. But all over our region there are families who cannot afford the school’s list of required supplies, and little boys and girls wear the same stained shirt their sibling did three years prior.
This is what Mary Theobald realized when she was shopping for her own children in 1992. “I wondered about those who didn’t have the same financial resources and decided to help another family,” said Mary. She knew Bev Jennette from being a member at the Tuckahoe Family YMCA. Bev was in charge of community development and has one of the biggest hearts imaginable. Mary’s gracious gesture inspired Bev to see if she could find donors to shop for more children. She was asked to speak at a local Rotary, Western Henrico Rotary Club, and she knew exactly what she was going to say.
“In the eyes of a child, the first day of school ranks slightly behind Christmas morning and on a par with birthdays. It is a very exciting time. I encourage you to think back to your own experiences and your children’s,” said Bev, taking the Rotarians on a trip down memory lane. “Now, let me tell you the back-to-school story of another child who is not so fortunate,” she said and described the first day of school for a child living in poverty. With that, YMCA Bright Beginnings was born.
YMCA Bright Beginnings served 13 children in 1992. Over the past 18 years, caring adult volunteers have taken more than 25,000 children in need on shopping trips for new clothes and supplies to start the school year ready to learn. With your help, we will ensure another 2,400 children have a first day of school worth looking forward to.