GREENFIELD — With balanced calendars and tightened schedules, it seems odd to begin thinking about school again, but Hancock County Backpack Attack is already a day old on its drive to get essential school supplies into the hands of kids who need them.
Sponsored by United Way of Central Indiana in partnership with Indy Backpack Attack, the effort encourages county residents, businesses and civic groups to buy and donate a range of supplies – from binders to backpacks – for area schoolchildren whose families might not otherwise be able to afford them.
Now in its 11th year, the drive continues to meet a growing need.
“There really is no other relief,” said Jeannie Roberts, volunteer coordinator for United Way of Central Indiana’s Hancock County office. “It costs a lot of money to buy school supplies, and many of them have gotten so specific by subject and by teacher that it’s very costly.”
Last year, the initiative brought in about 40,000 items.
This year, organizers will have to mount a short but intense drive to beat the school bell.
More than two dozen county businesses, churches and civic organizations have signed on to hold collection drives that will culminate in a “Stuff the Bus” event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 23 at the Greenfield Wal-Mart.
That event, Roberts said, is an excellent opportunity for residents to get involved as they can pick up a list of needed items, purchase them at the store and then stuff the bus.
The supplies will then be delivered to J.B. Stephens Elementary School, where volunteers will sort them for delivery to the county’s 17 elementary, intermediate, middle and junior high schools.
In addition to internal corporate and business collection drives, residents can purchase school items and drop them at collection points throughout the county, including the Hancock County Public Library in Greenfield and the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce.
Mary Lynn Burrows, executive assistant at the library, said the collection box there stands ready for donations.
“I just put the box out (Tuesday), and I have slips of paper to show people what to bring,” Burrows said. “I’m anticipating things to start coming in this weekend.”
In addition to donations, the effort is still signing up organizations to join the drive and volunteers to help sort and count the supplies once they come in.
Annually, about 80 to 100 residents donate their time throughout the day to help sort out the donations and get them to the schools.
“We have a wonderful corps of volunteers that help each year,” Roberts said.
For information about volunteering to help with this year’s campaign, call Roberts at (317) 477-2345.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
What: Hancock County BackPack Attack to put essential back-to-school supplies into the hands of families who need them.
When: July 1 – 23
Priority items needed: backpacks, Crayons (8-, 16- and 24-packs), dry erase markers, glue sticks (not bottles), pocket folders, school boxes and scissors.
Other items include: paper towels, flash cards, colored pencils, Ziploc bags, tissues, disinfecting wipes, one-inch binders, large pink erasers, rulers, pens (no gel) and notebook paper.
Where does it go? Supplies will be distributed to all 17 elementary, intermediate, middle and junior high schools in Hancock County.
For more information: Contact Paula Jarrett, Hancock County United Way director, at (317) 467-2346 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.