Today@Sam Article

College of Education Supplies Packs For Baily

July 15, 2022
SHSU Media Contact: Campbell Atkins

baily supplies picTo find out how much B.E. Blessed has grown in the last few years, one would simply have to ask Baily Cowart and her family how many school supply donations have flooded the upstairs portion of their Spring home in recent months.

“We are up to our eyes in supplies,” said 11-year-old Baily about a month before “packaging day”, a day in which the team distributes their many donations to Title One schools in the area.

B.E. Blessed, the first portion of which stands for Baily Elizabeth, hopes to service 12 schools with donations for the start of the 2022 school year in the fall, up from nine schools in 2021. They have already surpassed the amount of donation sets they achieved a year ago and expect to reach 750 sets this time around.

Contributing to the donation pile this year includes Sam Houston State University’s College of Education, who supplied over 50 high quality SHSU backpacks and several hundred orange water bottles for Baily to pick up and distribute.

“I thought, as a college of education, why would we not want to be supportive of such a great thing, especially in our own backyard” said Forrest Lane, chair of educational leadership at SHSU’s College of Education, who first heard of the project at a Conroe ISD function. “We reached out to her and her parents to see what we could do to help, and it all worked out.”

While every donation is special, the Cowarts were thrilled to get the call from SHSU, where Baily’s parents Russell and Stephanie went to college. Baily admitted it was also special for her to experience her parents’ old stomping grounds firsthand.

While B.E. Blessed officially became a 501c3 organization in 2019, when Baily was eight years old, the journey actually began two years prior.

“When I was in kindergarten, we got a letter home in our folders explaining how the nurse’s office needed clothes and supplies,” said Baily. “I asked why, and my mom said it was because some people aren’t as fortunate as us and don’t get to have an extra set of clothes or get to buy new supplies every year.”

A family friend of the Cowarts, who worked at a low-income school at the time, taught some struggling students who had no backpacks or supplies. In Baily’s first year, she donated a backpack as well as a wagon full of supplies.

Baily’s parents matched the funds their daughter brought in from her sweet tea stand to help finance the first year of supplies.

 “Baily has always been pretty inquisitive, and she didn’t understand there was this need,” Stephanie Cowart said. “Once she found out there was one, she wanted to do something about it. We were all in.”

As it turned out, Baily was just getting started.

“We really did not think it was going anywhere after that, we figured she did her good deed,” Stephanie said. “But the next year came around and she started asking what we were going to do this year.” 

 To help the organization grow in its early years, Baily would ask friends and family for donations in lieu of birthday gifts. Over time, she started including more and more creative necessities to give away along with backpacks and traditional school supplies.

“We are always adding something,” said Baily. “The first time, after Hurricane Harvey, we added shoes and socks, then we added hygiene kits. When COVID shutdown the water fountains at school, we added water bottles. This year, in our hygiene kits, we are adding washcloths.”

They are also constantly increasing the quality of their supplies, which is an integral part of the donation process.

“We want the kids to feel like they are getting stuff straight out of the store,” said Baily. “We have to go through every donation to make sure that everything is new.”

The growth experienced by B.E. Blessed has allowed them to give away several scholarships over the years, including money as well as computer laptops. Last year, two students at the junior and senior level of high school received $1,500 each and a laptop for winning an essay contest about the meaning of community service.

Baily mentioned the lack of donation services for older students at the middle school and high school levels, an issue she hopes to continue focusing on as the organization progresses.

“By the time I am old enough, I want to have an entire office building and people who come, even if they are volunteers, to help pack supplies,” said Baily. “I want to have multiple locations to eventually reach all over the country so that we are not just helping this little section but helping kids across the country for supplies.”

In addition to helping others through her organization, Baily also aspires to become a lawyer when she grows up.

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