Photo: From left, Eric Bassette and his wife, Annette, founders of Making Disciples Boys Mentoring Program, Rebecca Dixon, Matteson School District 162 assistant director of special education, Jaimie Goodley, District 162 director of special education, Ronneisha Hunt, a fourth grade teacher at Woodgate Elementary School in Matteson, Deena Miller, a Woodgate kindergarten teacher and Vincent Payne, principal of Woodgate.
Shopping carts overflowing with school supplies were steered around a south suburban Walmart Saturday morning, as school administrators shopped for families in need.
The scene was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Making Disciples Boys Mentoring Program. The Making Disciples Boys Mentoring Program, a south suburban community group, has partnered with local school districts Matteson School District 162 and Elementary School District 159 for a third year to support students by buying school supplies.
Each school district was able to buy up to $3,000 in supplies to help families who may not be able to afford all of the items on the back-to-school list. The need is even greater this year as inflation has raised the cost of school supplies. The National Retail Federation estimates that families with school children will spend an average of $864 on school clothes and supplies this year, $15 more than last year.
“It helps our students because they don’t have to worry about coming to school and not having. This removes any barriers from their learning,” said Vincent Payne, principal of Woodgate Elementary School. “They can come to school and focus on what’s important.”
“This donation makes a big difference in helping our students start the school year with what they need,” said Rebecca Dixon, Matteson 162’s assistant director of special education, who was one of the administrators shopping on Saturday. Dixon estimates that about 50 district families will benefit from the generosity of Making Disciples.
In July, Making Disciples also donated 100 books with afrocentric themes to Matteson School District 162 that will be distributed among the libraries of the district’s schools.
Making Disciples was founded in 2015 by Eric Bassette and his wife Annette. In years past the couple hosted a “Back to School” event in August, where they distributed school supplies. The Bassettes were determined to still make a difference despite having to cancel the “Back to School” event because of the pandemic in 2020.They decided that they would donate money to local school districts to buy the supplies students needed.
“Making Disciples believes that reading is a vital part of our children’s development and success,” said Eric Bassette. “We want to help support and encourage the development of our children through donating books and school supplies.”
Kevin Murphy, Matteson School District 162 board president, said support from community groups like Making Disciples is an important part of student success. Murphy is also a member of the board of Making Disciples.
“This valuable partnership with Making Disciples helps to underwrite the dreams of our community as we work together as board members, administrators, educators and parents to educate our children,” Murphy said. “When we educate our children, we lift our communities.”