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Foundation, school partner to provide school supplies

by Brittany Williams | August 6, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.
Kevin Payne prepares supplies for donations to the students of Junction City Elementary School. The Kevin Payne Foundation donated supplies for the 2017-18 school year.

Former NFL player and Junction City alumnus helps give supplies to elementary students

By Brittany Williams

Staff Writer

JUNCTION CITY — Because of a fundraising effort by the Kevin Payne Foundation and Junction City High School teacher Videssa Owens, more than 250 students from kindergarten through sixth grade received free backpacks stuffed with supplies.

The foundation’s namesake is a former NFL safety who first garnered athletic success as a Junction City Dragon, before playing for the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks and Chicago Bears. With the desire to give back to the community, he started the foundation a few years ago.

“The focus behind the foundation is to build the intellectual, physical and emotional standpoint for youth … targeting underprivileged kids in our communities and develop programs so that they can be the thinkers and the leaders of our future,” Payne said.

Finally ready to put his vision to action and develop programs, he said he contacted Owens to put a few projects together during the school year.

“She’s a teacher in Junction City and she’s a huge asset at taking care of getting all of the things together with the supplies. I just want to make that be known that this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for her and what she’s been able to do,” he said.

Owens used DonorsChoose.org to raise more than $2,000 for the supplies and Payne purchased the backpacks. Owens said some businesses also donated and Generations Bank purchased the rest of what was needed.

“It exceeded beyond my expectations. Anonymous donors donated, people from here in the community donated and basically within 16 days, the entire amount had been funded … The rest that wasn’t funded through DonorsChoose.org, Kevin contacted a couple businesses out there and they agreed to some of what was left. I went to talk to Generations Bank here and they agreed to do the rest,” Owens said.

The foundation’s backpack drive indirectly “builds the spirit of our kids and their self image.” He said he believes school children, regardless of socioeconomic upbringing, should have the “same experience on the first day of school.”

“If you think about when we were kids, we loved the first day of school,” Payne said. “We couldn’t sleep at night because we wanted to get around all of our friends, have fun, go on the playground and let go of some energy. The reality is … a lot of kids enjoy that part but they’re still depressed because maybe they don’t have a nice haircut or certain school supplies.”

Parents who picked up supplies Saturday don’t need to buy additional material such as tissues, Germ-X and paper towels because they were purchased through the fundraiser as well. Because every student will use Chromebooks, all students in

kindergarten through sixth grade will need to bring ear buds with them on the first day of school, said Junction City Elementary Principal Teresa Matochik.

“A huge thank you to Kevin Payne and Mrs. Videssa Owens for the fundraiser to purchase backpacks and school supplies for all Junction City Elementary K-6 students. We are so blessed to have your continued support,” Matochik said in a Facebook statement. “Our administration, staff, parents and students are the benefactors of your kindness. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all who donated our students. I am so blessed to work for a great district, community and patrons.”

Next on the foundation’s agenda is providing free haircuts for students 3-18 years old, he said. More than 15 barbers and stylists will be on campus Aug. 13 in the Junction City High School multipurpose room.

Parents are asked bring their children between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in order to receive a haircut by 4 p.m.

Brittany Williams can be reached at 870-862-6611 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook @BWilliamsEDNT for updates on Union County school news.

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