Winter Storm Watch issued for West Michigan for Sunday

School Supply Santa helping students in need

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The School Supply Santa has been working hard, collecting thousands of donations for families in need as children get ready for the school year. Denise Kooiker has been paying it forward to the children of Kent County for eight years now, hoping to bring some early Christmas cheer to the classroom.

"They call me Santa because we just leave gifts like he leaves," said Kooiker. "I leave the gifts, and we leave as a team."

School Supply Santa is an effort that first began in Kooiker's garage. Eight years later, the operation has grown to more than 40 volunteers helping pack supplies for children who would otherwise be unprepared for school.

"We  have backpacks, pencil boxes, crayons, markers, pens, notebooks, ear buds, colored pencils, and binders," said Kooiker. "You name it, we've got it."

Kooiker and her team are packing 400 gift bags alongside 700 backpacks this year after accepting donations from more than 70 different locations. They're getting ready to serve 18 schools in nine separate districts within Kent County.

"What excites me is what it’s going to do for the child within," said Kooiker. "For me, it’s a heart factor all the way."

Being a parent herself, Kooiker understands the heart behind these gifts and finds herself overwhelmed by the intense need in Kent County.

"Parents can’t afford this," said Kooiker. "And to bring this to them and say, We still love you and you’re not forgotten, I pray they always remember that."

Kooiker and her team still add some final touches to make before giving out those gifts on Tuesday. She says the supplies are given to school administrators to ensure children who really need them receive them.

If you want to donate, you still can. Drop off donations at Byron Community Ministries, 8250 Byron Creek Dr., Byron Center.

Google Map for coordinates 42.815101 by -85.677773.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.