Hundreds of Jefferson County Public Schools students receive free school supplies at back-to-school event
A line of cars led from the side of Valley High School out to Dixie Highway. Staff and volunteers directed cars around the parking lot while others handed out backpacks full of school supplies and boxed lunches to cars further up the line.
Jefferson County Public Schools officials, working alongside community partners, prepared 1,400 backpacks of supplies for students across several age groups.
“They have the majority of the school supplies they’ll need for the upcoming school year: folders, loose leaf paper, notebooks, markers, colored pencils, pencils, pens,” said Dawn Davis, youth services coordinator at Lassiter Middle School. “We tried to cover as much of JCPS’s list of school supplies that is on the website.”
Davis said events like the one at Valley High School were prompted by a need in the JCPS community.
“The kids would come to school and not be prepared, as far as having the school supplies. And some of those could be pretty daunting based on what the school was asking,” Davis said.
For guardians, the event allowed them to have one less thing to worry about during their back-to-school preparations.
“It feels really good because school supplies are expensive. And then they’re in uniform, so I have to get uniform clothes, new shoes. This is a huge relief,” said Christian Thompson.
Thompson was getting supplies for her daughter, son and godson. All of them sat in the backseat of her car, excited to receive their loaded-up backpacks.
“Now, I can focus on everything other than buying school supplies,” Thompson said.
Lisa Newland was also at Valley High School on Saturday to collect supplies for her grandchildren.
“In this day and age, it’s hard to even pay for bills and buy food, so this is an amazing opportunity for folks who need that help,” Newland said.
Newland said the large turnout for the event highlights a larger issue happening across the country regarding families’ ability to afford basic necessities.
“People are not seeing and knowing this. Even though we are speaking, they’re not hearing us,” Newland said.
Before the event was even halfway over, Davis said volunteers had already given away at least a quarter of the supplies. The event was set to kick off at 9 a.m., but cars had already started to arrive about an hour early.
Guardians aren’t the only ones who benefit from the events, Davis said.
“Kids already have so many obstacles, and to not have school supplies is a minor one we can assist with,” she said. “If they can be ready that first day of school and have everything they need, I think that’s a huge help.”
JCPS board member Linda Duncan said having the necessary supplies helps students feel more engaged with learning. She’s been helping out at these back-to-school events for years, which she said have grown every year.
Duncan said students were excited to receive their school supplies.
“It makes school so alive for them when they see the backpack and they see all the supplies that are in there,” she said.
The event at Valley High School is the first of more than a dozen back-to-school events where students will be able to receive free school supplies ahead of the upcoming school year. A full list of events can be found on the JCPS website.
Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.