School hasn’t been out a month yet, but one Fairfield charity is already planning for the 2021-2022 school year.
Dougie & Ray’s recently acquired 150 backpacks for next school year with the help of a recent donation by Rollhouse Entertainment, a bowling alley on Ohio 4 in Fairfield. And Ted McDaniel, the charity’s founder, hopes to get at least 200 backpacks filled with school supplies for kids in need of assistance.
“My goal is just to continuously build, and help meet the needs of the district,” said McDaniel. “I know 200 out of 10,000 may not seem like that many, but that’s 200 kids that will have a backpack that may not have a backpack prior.”
McDaniel said this program is about “having kids ready to go back with everything and they have the self-confidence with having everything that their peers have, and there’s no need or want when it comes to back to school.”
The mission of Dougie & Ray’s is to serve students in need within the Fairfield City School District through projects like the backpack program and the annual Christmas Drive, as well as meeting everyday needs.
McDaniel started the backpack program by himself with 25 bags filled with supplies. A year later, he had around 115 backpacks. In year three, the charity distributed 75 backpacks.
This year, his goal is to hit 200, and assemble the bags with supplies later this summer at Fairfield Wesleyan Church on Anthony Wayne Avenue. Fairfield Wesleyan Pastor Billy Bruns said it’s an “easy” decision to help McDaniel, who he says has a large passion to support the children of the community and meeting needs that aren’t being met.
“Fairfield’s a great city, we’ve got lots of big businesses and they do what they can, but there’s that niche market of meeting the needs of our kids,” said Bruns. “Dougie & Ray's have done a wonderful job of infiltrating into the school system using resources like the school liaisons to just make an impact.”
While 200 backpacks are the goal, McDaniel said he hopes it’s “the tip of the iceberg this year.”
“I feel like every year we’ve gotten better and better, and been able to meet more needs the school kids have,” he said. “COVID definitely put a damper on things, but we were able to take our playbook, throw it out the window and really just meet needs as they came in.”
Ultimately, McDaniel said he hopes helping in-need children today is the ripple in the water today that makes big waves in the future.
“I hope people see this and realize the need that’s in Fairfield, and maybe in their hometown if they’re not in Fairfield, and they see that they themselves can go out and make a difference, whether small or big.”
And whether kids that get help today aspire to great heights, or just pay the kindness forward, McDaniel said he hopes “that strikes a chord with them, saying, ‘Hey, I got helped out, maybe I can go help out somebody else.’ ”
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