Artcan, a local nonprofit organization for artists, embodied this message and created its first Book Bag and Supply Drive.
With the help of Harrisburg’s Parks and Recreation Department, Artcan plans to distribute book bags and supplies at the Hall Manor pool on Wednesday. The book bags, which benefit students K-12 within the Harrisburg School District, will be filled with pencils, paper, folders, crayons and other supplies needed for student to survive those first months of school.
“We wanted to create a charity that can directly impact children and really tap into the young people of the community and to just be connected to them,” said Artcan co-founder Shane Gallup. “And start to build something with them with an offering.”
Gallup and his long-time friend, Lawrence Williams, came up with the idea of Artcan last year. The purpose for the organization is to discuss social injustice through art, whether it’s paintings, dance, music, photography or any other forms of art.
Williams, a photographer whose work has been shown in local galleries, and Gallup, who painted a mural for the 2017 Harrisburg Mural Festival, started officially putting out work under Artcan last March.
They participated in gallery showings at the District Bar & Lounge and the Art Association of Harrisburg. Still, they felt they needed a deeper connection with the community.
“We want charity to be an integral part of [Artcan’s] involvement,” Gallup said. “We wanted this organization to serve the community.”
According to Williams, Artcan chose the supply drive because it hits close to home. As the youngest of five, Williams often saw his parents struggle to prepare them for going back to school.
“We see that visual all the time—kids going to school without books,” Williams said. “They [struggle to] accomplish anything or get ahead.”
Though born in California, Gallup was raised in Harrisburg and witnessed firsthand the politicizing that goes on inside the district, which harms student performance, he said.
“I think with what’s happening in the school district—or what’s not happening—it’s super important that the people organize themselves and reach out and show these kids what they’re worth because it’s not always going to come from the school or the establishment,” Gallup said.
All items are donated from the drive through Artcan by the community and Artcan members. Through a raffle, 20 students will receive book bags customized by one of the Artcan artists.
The supply drive will be Artcan’s first charity event, but, if the drive is a success, they hope to host it again around December.
“Come out and support the book bag drive,” Williams said. “As we reach a bigger audience, we also give back bigger and bigger.”
The Book Bag and Supply Drive is Aug. 8 at the Hall Manor Pool 100 Hall Manor Pl., Harrisburg, at 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Donations can be dropped off at the Southside Boys & Girls Club or given to Williams or Gallup. You can contact them at email@example.com, on Facebook or Instagram @artcanhbg.