Backpack Buddies, an effort through Churches Touching Lives for Christ, is striving to provide about 1,300 Temple Independent School District students with school supplies and a new backpack for the upcoming school year.

However, Carol Lynch — who has been running Backpack Buddies for the past 16 years — said that figure is actually shy of the number of students in need.

“The number in need is close to 2,000, but what we can realistically do through the sponsorship with the community’s help is 1,300,” Lynch told the Telegram. “There’s still a definite need … but in the end it’s an amazing hand-in-hand effort.”

Lynch said Temple ISD is responsible for dispensing the funded backpacks to eligible students.

“What is unique about Backpack Buddies is that the backpack comes with grade-specific supplies. … It is not just a draw-string bag with some pencils and some composition books in it,” she said. “We have a school supply list comparable to TISD and these children on the first day of school will have exactly the same supplies that every other child in their classroom has.”

Lynch said area residents can best contribute to the effort by making a $40 cash donation — or more — to Churches Touching Lives for Christ.

“Once the Temple community finds out or knows about a need ... they come forth in unbelievable support,” she said. “Temple has a huge heart for our kids and is huge supporters of our schools. This is just one way that they show that.”

This year, Temple Fire & Rescue is assisting in the effort.

“Temple Fire & Rescue is collecting donations for the annual Backpack Buddies Program,” Alejandra Arreguin said in a news release. “Those who want to participate are encouraged to donate new backpacks or school supplies to any Temple fire station.”

Gill Hollie, education coordinator for Temple ISD after-school centers, previously told the Telegram how this program is a great way for Temple ISD students to have access to the necessary supplies outside of their time on campus.

“I can’t say this loud enough. … those churches are the heartbeat of this Backpack Buddies program,” he said in 2020. “Their church members are going out and buying these backpacks. Without them there is no way we could conjure 1,300 backpacks.”

During an event Tuesday, some students at Hector P. Garcia Elementary already received new backpacks filled with supplies for the upcoming school year following a donation from a NFL athlete.

Temple ISD spokesman Christian Hernandez said the donation came from Chris Harris, an All-Pro cornerback for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Residents interested in sponsoring other students with a backpack and supplies can contact Carol Lynch at 254-760-6107.