Harker Heights Community Park was full of people looking to play a little softball and have fun on a sunny Saturday, and it was all to support two good causes rolled into one.
The Educated Angels, a nonprofit organization founded by Killeen Independent School District teachers, had its Ultimate Back to School Bash and Knocking Out Homelessness Softball Tournament to help kids in need.
“We’re hoping to fill up both of these pickup truck beds with school supplies,” said Sibyl Sheppard, one of the founders, looking toward two full-size, brand new Dodge Rams. “In the past, we’ve been able to fill up two buses, but the giving ebbs and flows every year. We’re grateful for whatever the community can provide.”
In addition to giving school supplies and backpacks to KISD to distribute to children in need, the event also was aimed at helping the homeless, especially homeless students.
Sheppard said there are 1,300 KISD students who are homeless. “It’s been as high as 1,500 in the past,” she said.
KISD’s Homeless Awareness Response Program, or HARP, benefited from the event, Sheppard said.
Homeless students use HARP resources throughout the year, including a closet with clothes, assistance with food, rent, transportation and access to social services, she said.
“It’s essential that students feel successful and ready for school,” Sheppard said.
The Educated Angels also support Special Olympics and give out scholarships.
“As teachers, children are our heart,” she said. “It’s just what we do.”
The first event was held in 2013, she said. Educated Angels, which is comprised mostly of people who are involved in education, took over the event in 2016.
Sheppard expected around 1,000 people to stop by the event on Saturday.
Dodge Country, one of the sponsors, loaned the trucks and will deliver the supplies to KISD on Monday.