A number of Greene County families are better prepared for the coming academic year after the Back 2 School Bash Saturday.

The Greene County School System’s event to help families in need by providing free school supplies was a little different this year as it adopted a drive-through format as a precaution due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The effects of COVID-19 gave the system an additional reason to have the event, said LeAnn Myers, K-8 data assessment and evaluation supervisor for the system.

“Families are still in need of supplies,” she said “A lot of people are financially in need.”

Scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., school system staff and volunteers began giving out the backpacks and other supplies at 8:30 a.m., Myers said. A total of 629 backpacks were distributed.

Everyone was ready to begin by 8:30, she said, and the parking lot at Chuckey-Doak High School was full of cars. People began lining up at 6:30 a.m. for the event. Some families carpooled, she added, with 228 vehicles coming through the line.

Although there was a wait for the families, “thank you” was a phrase heard repeatedly during the event as mothers, fathers and grandparents expressed their appreciation to the school system staff and volunteers as they brought items to their vehicles.

Twenty-one cars were in line when the supply was gone, but contact information was obtained to supply backpacks to the 49 students in families represented in those vehicles, Myers said. The system’s Family Resource Center will gather supplies for those backpacks, which will be distributed to the students at their local schools.

Student backpacks filled with school supplies were not all that people received as they came through the line.

“We tried to be very thoughtful and thorough about providing whatever families need and help them be prepared for going back in school,” Myers said.

If the pandemic situation in the future merits the change, these supplies will also be beneficial to families if instruction has to be given all online, she added. Currently, the school system is planning to provide in-person instruction as well as an online virtual program, with parents choosing the one they want for their children.

COOPERATIVE EFFORT

The supplies provided reflect the team effort that Myers said made the Back 2 School Bash possible as well as the distribution itself. She commended Alicia Ricker, director of the Family Resource Center, for her work in the effort.

Distribution of the backpacks and food boxes kept volunteers from two church youth groups busy, one from the Horse Creek Church of God and the other from Limestone Freewill Baptist Church. School system central office and Family Resource Center staff, school principals, other school personnel and Save the Children representatives were among those helping take information from families about student number and ages

“They have been such a blessing,” Myers said of the youth. The youth group from the Horse Creek Church of God packed all 600 backpacks.

When contacted, the church’s youth minister Ken Brewer was enthusiastic about the opportunity for the teenagers to serve.

“It helps them realize how blessed they are, to be appreciative of that and to give back to others,” Myers said.

Some of the funding for the items in the backpacks came from the system’s Family Resource Center, including some resources it received from the United Way of Greene County, she said.

In addition, the system was able to use resources from its Save the Children program, which is funded by a grant from that organization, to provide supplies, Myers said. Each student also received age-appropriate books from the program.

A box of food for each family was also provided by Second Harvest Food Bank, she continued, as well as a bag of items from Ballad Health. The Community Collaborative also provided kindergarten readiness backpacks for families with children that age.

Forms to receive a free pair of shoes if needed were provided to the families. The shoe program is provided for the schools by the local Scottish Rite organization.

The Opportunity House Thrift Store also provided 100 $20 gift certificates for families to use for school clothes, she said. As families came through, they were asked about their need in that area, and the first 100 who indicated it was concern were provided certificates.

Three hundred gift certificates were also provided by Weigel’s for a gallon of milk, she said.

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