Hundreds of Students Get Much Needed School Supplies

Posted at: 08/19/2013 10:32 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- It's time to start thinking about school, some in Iowa began Monday, others will soon.
Even though the start date in Minnesota is still a couple of weeks away, parents are making sure their kids have the supplies they need. However, getting those items is a difficult task for a growing number of families in our area. The long list of supplies is simply too expensive for those who struggle to put food on the table.
After months of collecting supplies and taking in donations,  hundreds of kids were able to check items off of their list Monday. "It’s just a really big expense you know for school to start," said mother Melissa Perez.
"The cost of supplies just add up, especially if you have more than one child," said mother Jacqueline Bell. Many parents worry they won't be able to give their kids what they may need in the classroom and each grade means a different set of supplies. "My oldest is in third, my middle is in first, and my son goes to a learning center at head start," said Perez.
Our ABC 6 News team joined local United Ways during our "Stuff the Bus" school drive, and other campaigns, to ease that pressure on families.
Monday in Stewartville, school supplies were distributed to roughly 400 families. "It was very long ( the line), there's a lot of people," said Bell. This supply drive was part of the "Running Start for Schools" drive.  
"If their children qualify for free and reduced price lunches, we coordinate with the school and then we send the postcards out to those families directly. They bring the postcard here with a photo ID then they can collect the school supplies," said Deneene McDonald with United Way.
No kids in that line went home empty handed. “Just to see on a kids face the excitement of collecting a backpack, collecting their school supplies, I can remember back to when I did that so that's the joy of seeing it. It’s all worth it," said McDonald.
The goal this year for the "Running Start for School" program is to reach just under 5,000 students. The next distribution is Tuesday morning in Byron. Then in Rochester on Wednesday and Thursday.