Outreach equips students to learn
Published 4:43 pm Monday, August 5, 2013
Though the cost of pencils and paper seem minute to some, but the reality is many families in Polk County struggle to cover the costs of such items as their kids prepare to head back to school.
Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry set out Saturday, Aug. 3 to prevent the lack of a pencil from causing another barrier in a child’s effort to learn.
Outreach Director Carol Newton said once again they served more families this year than the last. Last year’s supply drive served about 187 children.
At the beginning of the day Saturday, Newton expected to see almost double that number.
“We think we’ll see at least 350 kids – we’ve already served about 55 through Steps to HOPE and DSS,” Newton said.
When the doors prepared to open Saturday at Polk County High School’s cafeteria, there was already a line stretching down and around the sidewalk. By the end of the day Outreach provided school supplies to about 375 students.
“It’s just a challenging world with low wages if you are fortunate enough to have a job and the school list is long and expensive,” Newton said as she explained there are likely more families out there who still could use help.
Parents on Saturday quickly equipped their kids with items directly from their school’s supply list in one stop. Volunteers packed plastic bags filled with three-ring binders, pencils, markers and erasers.
As kids grabbed their supplies, peaking inside to see what the bags held, they made their way to the next stage to get backpacks.
“Ooh, I want that purple one with the hearts on it,” said one little girl as she excitedly chose her favorite.
Client services director Michelle Reedy works much of the year watching for sales and special deals on items like backpacks just so the kids that benefit from the supply drive get to have that special moment of picking their backpack out.
Newton said numerous individuals, churches and businesses contributed funds and supplies to make the effort possible. Several other organizations made the day complete by offering information about dental services through Collins Dental Center, fire prevention as the Columbus Fire Department handed out red, plastic fireman hats, public safety from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and health services from Polk Wellness.
Students return to classes in Polk County on Aug. 26.