Generosity key part of school supply programs

Students in Bartholomew Consolidated and Flat Rock-Hawcreek school corporations started school this week, and about 2,000 received a helping hand to start their year positively.

Bartholomew County School Supply Assistance Program volunteers distributed backpacks filled with supplies to 1 in every 6 county students July 28 and 29 at FairOaks Mall. Not only did that gesture provide the students with important items that they’ll need — such as paper, pencils, crayons, glue and scissors — but it saved parents from paying out a combined $40,000.

That’s important because many local families struggle financially. About 45 percent of all students in the county are part of families that qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.

Participating families in the backpack program didn’t have to meet that requirement, though, because it was open to all families who couldn’t afford supplies — whatever the reason.

The program consistently gives away about 2,000 backpacks. That level of need requires a lot of support — financial, donations of supplies and volunteers.

Volunteers are needed to stuff the backpacks full of supplies and distribute them. And, about $40,000 is needed each year to purchase the supplies.

The United Way of Bartholomew County, the 14 organizations it partnered with countywide and the organizations and individuals who donated deserve special thanks for rising to the occasion and meeting the need. Their efforts raised $47,000 for supplies.

That amount of giving speaks well of community residents and their generous hearts.

And the smiles of the children and their parents after receiving the backpacks is proof that the program is appreciated.