RACINE (WITI) -- A growing number of students in the Racine Unified School District are homeless, and a church group is trying to make sure they're equipped with all the necessary tools they need to succeed inside and outside of the classroom.
With a purpose in their hearts, the congregation at Racine's Abundant Life Christian Center come together with an offering that is sure to have a lasting impact.
"We`re paying it forward. We`re giving those backpacks to our kids in our community," Senior Pastor Elliott Cohen said.
Cohen asked church members for donations to help the Racine Unified School District's "Families in Transition" program -- a group serving the educational needs of homeless students in the district.
"Last year, we had about 1,000 children identified in 12 months. This year, since September 3, I`ve had 502 identified within two weeks," the program's coordinator, Elizabeth Erven said.
With a growing need, Erven is happy to accept a large amount of school supplies.
"The fact is, this child may not know if they are going to sleep in a house, if they`re going to have a meal, if they are going to have clean clothes," Erven said.
In addition to a $500 check and hundreds of backpacks...
"We`re providing laundry detergent, gift card from Walmart, Walgreens, Target," Cohen said.
The goal is to help eliminate a huge burden young students face inside and outside of the classroom.
Students counted as homeless are those living in hotels, campgrounds, shelters, trailer parks and cars.
It also includes those living in hospitals or awaiting foster care placement.
The supplies will be distributed next week.