I come from a large rural farming family, and my parents worked hard to ensure that their 10 children had the means to get an education. Finances were always at the forefront of my parents concerns, but they understood the importance of preparing us for the new school year. Not just the basics of having a notebook, but having "proper" attire and supplies so we would not teased by other kids. My parents made personal sacrifices to provide me and my siblings with supplies and clothes for the new school year so we could focus on our education.
Since not all parents can afford school supplies for their children, the Durham Rescue Mission hosts a "Back to School Party" each year to provide backpacks, food, and clothing. GSK has been the long-term sponsor of this event (providing the backpacks and school supplies), and I have had the privilege of being on GSK's organizing committee for the past seven years. This year, nearly 200 GSK employees (and some of our family members) helped assemble and distribute nearly 3,000 school backpacks and basketballs. Our volunteers also helped serve food to the families at the event.
The parents who showed up at the mission have the same desire as my parents--to help increase their child's chance of succeeding in getting an education and leaving behind their current circumstances. Witnessing the gratitude of the parents and the children firsthand brings back so many great memories of my own parents. Most importantly, I know the book bags and materials will make a difference for those 3,000 kids who will be able to walk into school on the first day ready to learn.