Outreach preps families for school

Published 5:31 pm Monday, August 6, 2012

Volunteer Humberto Limon-Mendez and Michelle Reedy of Outreach search for the perfect backpacks for kids getting ready to start back to school. (photo by Samantha Hurst)

In just the first hour of Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry’s school supply drive, 187 children filed through Polk County High School’s cafeteria on Saturday, Aug. 4.
Outreach client services coordinator Michelle Reedy said she believes this year’s drive served as many if not more families than  last year’s drive.
“We’re going to still be giving bags out and serving people through the office for those that were working or simply couldn’t make it by Saturday,” Reedy said.
Volunteers outfitted students with bags full of the supplies they would need for their various grade levels – notebooks, pencil holders, crayons and folders. Then families walked with their kids to the next table where each child was able to pick out their choice of backpack.
Costco donated a number of backpacks to Polk County Schools, which then passed on 150 to Outreach, Reedy said. Reedy then purchased another 350 bags through Buy Way in Columbus, which offered them at a significant discount to Outreach.
For the families who made it by early in the day, there was a selection of backpacks with designs of everything from Hannah Montana to Spongebob and even outdoorsy green bags to suit a child’s preference.
“I want the kids to pick out their bags because it’s fun for them and they get to be who they are with the bag they carry,” Reedy said.
Reedy said her aim with the supply drive this year was to make the event a fun affair for the entire family. She said she didn’t want it to feel like just another charity event.
“I think this year we wanted to provide a good atmosphere for the kids and the parents,” Reedy said.
Numerous area health organizations – Baker Chiropractic, Collins Dental Clinic, Edney Eye, Polk Fit Fresh and Friendly, the Polk Wellness Center and St. Luke’s Hospital – were also on hand to provide screenings and health information to families.
The Columbus Fire Department even showed up with plastic firefighter hats, which most of the younger kids wore out of the building as they left.
At the end of the day, Reedy said Outreach was able to assist more than 200 children in preparing to go back to school.
Classes open back up on Aug. 27 in Polk County.

Volunteer Beverly Cobb passes out bags of supplies to fourth and fifth graders. (photo by Samantha Hurst)


Piles of extra notebooks, crayons and paper sit waiting to fill kids’ backpacks. (photo by Samantha Hurst)