Operation Kid Equip Outfits 38,000 School Children

Stephen Clark

Diane Knapp is a second grade teacher at Webster elementary school in Hazel Park. Last Friday she went on a shopping spree for school supplies. "Usually I try to get crayons, pencils and markers, things the students can use daily in the classroom" She says, eying shelves stuffed with supplies.

But those shelves arent at a Wal-Mart or Target store. They're at the Operation Kid Equip teacher's annex in Troy. And despite the price stickers from various stores the supplies are all absolutely free.

Operation Kid Equip is the brainchild of Menachem Kniespeck. "I started it about five years ago in my living room with a hundred backpacks for local children and in that time we've grown to serve 38,000 children throughout southeastern Michigan."

Kniespeck adds that it sprang from the simple idea that every child should have school supplies. Webb elementary school principal Jaimie Knapp couldn't agree more. "To have their own pencils, their own coloring equipment and backpacks I think they have more pride in what they do."

The supplies, which include the standard pencils, paper and glue but also clothing and food for kids who show up in the classroom hungry, are all donated. The staff is 100 percent volunteer. So understandably Operation Kid Equip could use some donations of supplies or cash to continue growing.

This week they're kicking off a collection drive as part of MotorCityConnect.com 's " Blood, Sweat and Gear" campaign. The idea is that everybody has blood to donate to the Red Cross , sweat they can offer to help Motor City Blight Busters tear down abandoned homes in Detroit, or money to help Operation Kid Equip supply gear to school children.

"To see the kids' faces when they do receive school supplies," Kniespeck says with a smile, "it's a remarkable thing. You know our kids don't lack the desire or capability to succeed. Most of them just lack the supplies."

For information on how you can help, go to Operation Kid Equip 's website www.operationkidequip.org


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