MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s back-to-school time, which means shopping for many families; but there are plenty of kids whose families are short of cash.

So, Champlin Park High School decided to help out in a back-to-school event where certain students get school supplies, clothing and haircuts – all for free.

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It’s the program’s second year, and it’s supported by donations and volunteers.

Every kid in the program gets a grade-appropriate bag with folders, notebooks, calculator, and pens. Local stylists donate their services, so students who want haircuts get them.

Amy Harnack started the program, and found the Champlin Park community was willing to help her.

“Last year, I actually had 42 homeless youth at Champlin Park High School,” she said. “I started a food shelf here with school supplies, clothing and food. Now with the kids it’s one-stop-shop; they can come to school and get what they need, and bring it home.”

At the food shelf, there are tables of donated clothing and shoes. There is also lots of food, from canned goods to fresh fruit and McDonald’s happy meals.

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“I’ve had a number of people who have needed these things come through and say, ‘We’re so thankful that you guys have done this,'” said on program volunteer.

The program continues through the school year.

“I think all the volunteers definitely want to make people feel comfortable, so that they’ll come back again and feel comfortable going to the shelf,” another volunteer said.

The program also offers a teen clinic and YMCA services.

“Anything that you can think of that was a helping agency we’ve invited here,” Harnack said.

The Champlin Park High event was such a success that a similar program has begun at Coon Rapids High School.

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Students at that location also got free sports physicals.

Liz Collin