“It’s very pretty,” Kylah Pruitt Moore said. “It’s hot pink with navy blue on the outside. I think I’ll use it for a very long time.

“I can take it to school or change it out and use it as a duffle bag.”

The fifth-grader received one of 800 book bags donated to Marshall Elementary School students by American Eagle Outfitters. South Carolina Teach for America facilitated Wednesday’s donation.

Laila Nimmons, who also received a pink and navy book bag, said it was a “good donation. Some of the kids don’t have book bags, and some of them are ripped.”

Sometimes books are so heavy it’s hard to carry them without a book bag, according to Laila.

“I think the company deserves a round of applause for donating them,” she said.

Assistant Principal Heath Owen reported that handing out the bags to 800 students was “fun, but challenging.”

January was an excellent time to give out the bags, she said.

The school is located in an area where more than 75 percent of students are living at or below the poverty level.

Through donations from various groups, the district gives book bags to all students at the beginning of the year. But because there are so many students, they can’t afford to buy the best quality bags, Owen said.

By January, many of them are wearing out, she said.

The new bags are high-quality, costing about $60 each. Hopefully, they’ll last a long time, Owen said.

Josh Bell, executive director of S.C. Teach for America, noted that that his organization has been working all week to get the bags ready for distribution.

“We loaded up a U-Haul truck with them,” he said.

In addition to the 800 bags given to students at Marshall, 1,200 bags will be handed out at Mellichamp, Rivelon and Sheridan schools.

Teach for America is an organization that recruits and trains people to teach. Since 2011, the organization has partnered with OCSD5 to put a number of teachers in its classrooms.

During that time, two Teach for America teachers have been named OCSD5 District Teacher of the Year: Laura Steele in 2010-11 and Autumn Coulter in 2015-16.

The district is very grateful to Teach for America and American Eagle Outfitters, she said.

At different times, American Eagle Outfitters have donated other things like shoes and clothing – a little bit of everything, Owen said.

“They have given us so much more than book bags,” she said. “We have benefited from this partnership.”

Contact the writer: dlinder-altman@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5529. 

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T&D Staff Writer

Martha Rose Brown covers crime and other topics. The South Carolina native has been a journalist for the past 15 years.

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