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County consolidates school supply giveaway

Posted: August 9, 2017 - 1:36am
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School supplies fill the cafeteria of the Columbia County Alternative School Tuesday during the inaugural Start Back with a Full Pack event. All supplies were donations received from the community.
School supplies fill the cafeteria of the Columbia County Alternative School Tuesday during the inaugural Start Back with a Full Pack event. All supplies were donations received from the community.

Columbia County Schools held its first school supply giveaway "experience" in a one-stop-shop for parents and their children to prepare to get back to school.

The inaugural Start Back with a Full Pack event was held Aug. 1 at the Columbia County Alternative School in Evans.

The event is an effort to get parents and students involved in preparing for getting back to school together, according to schools assistant superintendent Michele Sherman.

In the past, Sherman said parents would simply stop by the Columbia County Board of Education headquarters and pick up a supply-filled backpack. Now, a one-stop-shop can be enjoyed by the parents and children together.

"We just wanted our parents to have an opportunity to come and be a part of the community and at the same time offer them some resources to help their children be successful at home," Sherman said. "So we have really tried to make sure that it's an experience for the day."

Part of the experience included visiting several room with different resources. Parents and children were able to visit a room with tips and ideas on homework help in the areas of math and reading. Here, families learned tips on helping students with their homework and providing educational activities.

In another room, parents were able to select from a variety of new socks and underwear for their children from a fundraiser effort by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2016-2017.

In another room, several organizations had table set ups with family resources, including the Department of Family and Children Services. Sherman said that next year, they hope to even include the Department of Health to answer any questions and provide any information on vaccines and other back to school health requirements.

A final stop was available in the school's computer lab where parents had access to help with filling out free and reduced lunch forms, and other necessary back to school paperwork.

Sherman said all the rooms were staffed by county education employee volunteers. The event required the parents and their children to visit each room before they were able to visit the school supply give away.

Each room was staffed with Columbia County education employee volunteers.

"We have teachers, principals, you name it, nurses, counselors, we've got all kinds here," Sherman said of the education employee volunteers.

Single mother of four, Carrie Muse, said the Start Back with a Full Pack event was a huge help to not only get school supplies, but to also get all necessary paperwork needed for her son's medications before the first day of school.

"I can just go to the doctor now, instead of going to get the physical, going to the school, get the form, then go back," Muse said of the process in the past. "Now they'll have (his medication) at the beginning of the school year. It will save time and knowing that they have their stuff at the beginning of the school year, rather than having to wait to get the forms and all of that hassle that is medication in schools. It makes mommy nervous when they don't have their epi pens at school."

After parents and students visited all four resource rooms, they headed to the school supply area set up to resemble a "shopping" experience. Supplies ran the gamut from pens, papers and binders, to new backpacks.

"We really wanted the kids to have the experience of back to school shopping, so we decided to set it up in a shopping format and then we offered some additional resources for families that we thought would be helpful," Sherman said.

Muse said she and her children were grateful for the help.

"Getting school supplies is a blessing because we have good times and we have bad times so it's just awesome to get some help when things aren't so great," Muse said.

Sherman said that the donations were received from many different places throughout the community, and applauded the hundreds of people who helped make the Start Back with a Full Pack event successful.

"We are just so fortunate to live in a community that supports families and really pulls together to make an event like this happen," Sherman said. "It could not be one person or even five people, this is the work of hundreds of people and we are very, very appreciative."

And the response was positive overall.

"The response we've had already has been incredible. We were open a half an hour and we have probably already seen a couple hundred people," Sherman said. "We were a little concerned that people might not come and that was not the case at all, we have had lots of families."

 

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