April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

School supply drive helps students with gear

By By Paul [email protected]

Local churches and organizations have pooled their efforts to ensure that all Hope Elementary School students have the supplies they need for a successful school year.

And a nice new backpack to boot.

Jessica Poe, principal of Hope Elementary School, said multiple entities within Bartholomew County community answered the school district's annual call to supply children of financially strapped families with things like folders, pencils, three-ring binders, dry erase markers -- even earphones for use with iPad tablets the district already provides to students growing up in this electronic age.

By way of its 2-1-1 program, United Way of Bartholomew County used volunteers from various Bartholomew County churches and organizations to pack the donated items into about 135 backpacks specific to each student's needs, said Chelsea Kendall, executive director of the Community Center of Hope. Then, shortly before the start of the school year, Community Center personnel passed out the packs to students.

Poe said people typically would have dropped off donated supplies at the school itself. But a change designating the Community Center as the backpack pickup point proved a "huge success."

According to the National Retail Federation, parents of elementary school children spent an average of $649 a child during the 2015 school year. That's a steep price for families who barely make ends meet.

But Poe said the stakes are too high to let so many children start at a disadvantage. A simple truth, she said, is that fresh supplies help students perform on equal footing with their more affluent classmates.

Donors' generosity this year has gotten everyone off to a great start.[[In-content Ad]]