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St. Louis Post Dispatch: Lake Saint Louis couple provides 750 backpacks filled with supplies for area students


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Lake Saint Louis couple provides 750 backpacks filled with supplies for area students

 

By Taylor Tiamoyo Harris St. Louis Post Dispatch   August 2, 2019

Harris photo

 Volunteers from University City High School load backpacks for students Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. Photo by Taylor Harris of the Post-Dispatch

 

Marc "Big Marc" Mares directed University City High School football and basketball players Thursday evening on where to hustle and where to toss. 

But there weren't any balls, and Mares isn't even their coach. 

He is a Lake St. Louis man who, along with his wife, donated 750 backpacks filled with school supplies to University City, Ferguson and Pattonville schools.

Mares, University City athletes, students and staff spent over three hours loading up backpacks up and down the hallways of the Ronald E. McNair Administration Building on Thursday evening. Each pink, blue, purple and green backpack was filled with notebooks, glue, binders, pens, paper and "everything else the kids need," Mares said.

"If my father was a plumber, I would have been a plumber. But he was a community servant and he instilled that into me," said Mares. "Instead of parents having to figure out how to shop around, every kid gets it at one stop." 

This year's donation is one of the largest the University City district has had and will go a long way, according to Gary Spiller, the executive director of student services and innovation for University City schools. 

"This takes a lot of the stress off parents, but it's great for the kids who also volunteer," said Spiller, who was expecting about 150 backpacks. "We are definitely grateful for Mike and his wife." 

For Jason Wells, University City High School football coach, Thursday evening provided an opportunity off the field for his players to give back. 

"We play hard but we work harder, and that's why we're here," Wells said as about 20 of his players tossed supplies among each other for the backpacks. "It's good for them to know how and actually serve their community." 

Mares and his wife, Loretta, who he calls the brain of the operation, also run a charity via a basketball tournament called Kids and Families in Need. The organization serves many communities in St. Louis and St. Charles counties and Mares' hometown of Denver. 

Families wanting to pick up a backpack in University City can come out to their National Night Out on Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the McNair building. 

Ferguson families can come pick up backpacks during Unity Weekend on Sunday at the Emerson Family YMCA from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Mares said Pattonville will make backpacks available Aug. 12.