Donation drive to collect school supplies

GREENFIELD — Christy Harpold has seen the relief the gift of a simple backpack can give.

When students at J.B. Stephens Elementary, where Harpold is the school social worker, come to register for the upcoming school year, those who don’t have school supplies have the opportunity to pick out what they need from piles of backpacks, folders, safety scissors, pencils and whatever else teachers say they will need for the year. Boxes and boxes of school supplies come to county schools every year thanks to Backpack Attack.

Backpack Attack, a school supplies drive organized by the United Way of Central Indiana, enters its 12th year this summer, said organizer Jeannie Roberts. The effort contributes about 40,000 school supplies to 17 different county schools every year, according to a news release.

Kindergarten through eighth-grade students in need receive school supplies through the program, which invites members of the public to donate now through mid July.

Students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program at their schools qualify to receive school supplies through the  program — that’s about one in every four students across the county’s four school districts, Roberts said. 

The Hancock County Backpack Attack program differs from other school supplies drives in that volunteers don’t pack backpacks and give the same supplies to every student, Roberts said. 

Supplies requested by teachers vary widely from school to school and grade to grade, so it’s easier to let students pick out what they need during registration, she said. Supplies are provided to school social workers in bulk. 

“The student may have a backpack and scissors from last year, but then they are able to just go shopping for what they do not have,” Roberts said. “That’s how our supplies are able to go farther. Kids may already have some things, and if we give them something they don’t need, it keeps another child from getting them.”

During registration, J.B. Stephens Elementary School sets out school supplies just like they would be arranged at a store, Harpold said. 

It’s exciting for young students, especially those who may not recognize the difference between picking out supplies at the store or at school. They get to choose their favorite colors and characters when stocking up.

“It gives them that opportunity to feel like they really are shopping,” she said. 

Parents breathe a sigh of relief when they realize they can put money toward something else, like a new outfit for school, Harpold added. 

Backpack Attack supplies are kept available at J.B. Stephens throughout the year, in case someone runs out of something, or a new student arrives without something they need. This keeps teachers from having to call parents and tell them their child has to bring something in, because the student can just go down to the office to get what they need, Harpold said. 

At a glance

Supply donations can be dropped off at:

  • United Way’s Stuff the Bus event – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 13 at Walmart in Greenfield. Look for the big yellow school bus, provided by Greenfield-Central Schools. Volunteers will help unload supplies from vehicles.
  • Sort-Count-Pack day – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. July 14 at J.B. Stephens Elementary, 1331 N. Blue Road. Follow the arrows to the gym entrance.
  • Hancock County Edward Jones branches: Office staff will take supplies donations now through July 13. Monetary donations cannot be accepted. 

Volunteers of all ages are invited to register for Stuff the Bus and Sort-Count-Pack Day with Jeannie Roberts, 317-467- 2346 or jeannie.roberts@uwci.org.

Supplies needed

What to donate

The usual:

  • Crayons, pencils, pocket folders, backpacks and scissors.

The unexpected:

  • Paper towels, sandwich bags that zip, tissues, sticky notes, disinfecting wipes and dry erase markers.
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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.