INDIANAPOLIS — School bells will soon be ringing again as kids head back to the classroom. To make sure students have what they need to be successful in class, one Indianapolis woman is stocking her shelves for families who need a little extra help to pay for basic school supplies.
Inside Mercy Road Church Northwest, a pantry serves as a safe haven for hundreds of Indianapolis families. On the shelves is everything they need to take care of themselves, their kids and their home.
Rather than relying on donations, the founder of Dotted Line Divas, Christina Huffines, uses a different tactic to get what she needs for the families she helps.
"I am able to stock our shelves by couponing,” Huffines said. “We grow every month, I think we have an average of 30 to 40 new families each month that come.”
After going through a rough patch as a single mom, Huffines started Dotted Line Divas seven years ago to help other Hoosier families the way she had been helped.
“I just know there is such a huge need and I have a gift of couponing and getting things really cheap,” Huffines said. “And there was a time when so many people stepped up to help me, I just feel that is what my job is. And to see how many families we have helped change, if I can use what I went through to help change somebody else's life, it gives me purpose to get up every day.”
All this work is to help families like Heather Stofer’s, a single mom of two girls.
“We were struggling getting the hygiene products, because at the food pantry you can get the food but the hygiene products are the things that we struggle to purchase,” Stofer said.
That is where the Dotted Line Divas come in, to make sure families have access to these necessary items.
Stofer has been just their pantry for the past four years.
“The first time we came, when she gave me the supplies, it just made me feel that the burden that was on my shoulders for my girls to stay clean and healthy, they would stay that way because of the products that were given to us,” Stofer said.
This weekend, Huffines is getting families ready to go back to school.
“I have always done this every year, because again, when I was in need, I had kids where I couldn't afford their school supplies so I have always tried to do 50 to 100 backpacks, this year I just know with COVID hitting and there are a lot more families in need, so I decided to go big,” Huffines said.
Huffines plans to give out at least 500 backpacks. Plus, families who come to the pantry to pick up backpacks will also have the opportunity to get free books, enjoy some pizza, take family photos with a photographer and even get free haircuts.
“Those unique things that a lot of families go without and never even had,” Huffines said. “If we can save them $10, $20 so that they can go pay their light bill, that is what we want to do.”
No pre-registration is required for the Dotted Line Divas Back to School Bash. Attendees will have to show a photo ID upon arrival. There are no requirements to qualify to attend the event and receive the free school supplies, hygiene products and household items.
The Back to School Bash is happening Saturday, July 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., until supplies last. The event is located at Mercy Road Northwest at 9511 Angola Court.