Woman helps kids get school supplies through Facebook

Published 08/16 2012 10:05PM

Updated 08/17 2012 11:50AM

URBANA -- For some families one of the hardest things about starting the school year is buying supplies. One Central Illinois woman is helping struggling parents with that expense.

She's doing it all through social networking on a site where people turn trash into treasure. Jessica Sempek walked through County Market like a determined parent holding a list racing to get school supplies. However, Sempek doesn't have any kids. She just wants to help others.

"I started kind of late. I have a tendency to do projects spur of the moment, so two weeks ago, I decided, let's see what happens. And, I've just been overwhelmed with the number of requests," says Sempek.

Requests for crayons, pencils, rubber bands are still coming in.

"I am at 49 as of this afternoon, and I am committed to getting each child that has a need their bag with school supplies," says Sempek.

She found those 49 families on Facebook. Sempek helps run a garage sale page and the group has nearly 6,000 members.

"I've gotten to know quite a few people that were strangers before," says Sempek.

When she found out many were selling online to make ends meet, she put out a plea for help.

"There's lots of resources out there. There's a lot of organizations that have drives but I thought maybe I could do it too," says Sempek.

She's gotten some donations but is doing the bulk by herself, which makes bargain shopping a must. Even though she really can't afford it, she's throwing in a little something extra for each kid.

"They are all getting a shuttle pen with the four different colors on it," says Sempek.

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