Groups collecting school supplies for new school year

Virginia

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About halfway into many public school students’ summer vacation, it’s already time for students and parents to start thinking about the upcoming school year.

Many organizations are hosting school supply drives for students in the Gainesville area.

Some of those organizations include Tools for Schools, the PACE Center for Girls, Peaceful Paths, the American Legion Haisley Lynch Post 16, TCC/Wireless Advantage, and Alachua County Public Schools.

Tools for Schools, an organization that’s part of Alachua County’s Solid Waste and Resource Recovery, is a reusable school supply donation center.

People can donate any school supplies still in good shape they no longer need instead of throwing them away or donate new supplies, which can be used in other classrooms, said Christina Reed, a waste alternative specialist with the county.

“We use it (Tools for Schools) as a way to divert waste from the landfill,” Reed said.

Some of the supplies that can be donated are pencils, paper, markers, folders or anything else useful for a classroom.

The donation center is meant for teachers to use to get supplies for their classes. All the supplies are free and teachers can come by once a month to pick up what they need, Reed said.

Tools for Schools has a permanent location at 1147 SE Seventh Ave. and a mobile unit for teachers to use that travels to areas such as Archer, Hawthorne, Alachua and High Springs. The mobile unit travels during the school year.

The supply donation center started 15 years ago, and this year’s school supply drive begins July 23 and ends Aug. 5.

“It’s a good opportunity to get everybody involved in donating,” Reed said.

Peaceful Paths

Peaceful Paths, a domestic violence center that serves Alachua, Bradford, and Union counties, has hosted its own school supply drives since 2013, serving over 100 people each year.

The drive began on July 9 and ends July 27.

“One of the great things about our school supply drive is that it allows us to serve school-age kids throughout the school year,” said John Thomas, director of community giving and marketing at Peaceful Paths.

Peaceful Paths is looking for new school supplies such as wide-ruled and college-ruled paper, crayons, pens, pencils, glue sticks, markers, colored pencils and backpacks, Thomas said.

Donors can shop Peaceful Paths’ Amazon wish list or drop off supplies at three locations: Peaceful Paths Outreach Center at 2100 NW 53rd Ave., the O2B Kids Midtown Location at 1555 NW 23rd Ave., or the Rabell Realty Group Haile Plantation Office at 5213 SW 91st Terrace.

The drive only serves Peaceful Paths’ clients, so a child or their parent must be a part of one of center’s programs to receive the donations, Thomas said.

“School supplies are expensive, so thanks to the help of our awesome community we’re able to meet that need, and you know, lessen the burden on these families who might not have the money to spend on school supplies,” Thomas said.

TCC/Wireless Advantage

Since 2013, TCC has hosted the annual School Rocks Backpack Giveaway, where about 1,000 of TCC and Wireless Zone stores, which are independent Verizon Wireless retailers, donate backpacks. Over 750,000 backpacks have been donated since the event’s creation, said Skylar Whitney, media contact for Dittoe Public Relations that works for TCC.

The giveaway is from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday at participating TCC and Wireless Zone stores.

The TCC in Alachua at 15560 NW 411 Ste 140 is participating in the event for the first time this year.

“We kind of want to give what we can and when we can,” said Robert Grant, the Alachua store’s manager.

The store will be closed on Sunday to focus on giving out the backpacks. There will be bounce houses, drinks and food vendors as well, Grant said.

The Alachua store will have about 250 backpacks to give out on a first-come, first-served basis.

“One of the main things that’s important (is) a kids’ education and so, we want people to go to school and build value on education, so that they can have a better future,” Grant said.

PACE Center

PACE Center for Girls, a nonprofit organization that helps girls between ages 12 and 18, is collecting school donations for people at the center and in the community.

“A lot of the girls are underserved in our center, so we want to make sure that we provide them with the right resources, and we want to make sure they are ready to succeed for the year,” said Stephanie Darilus, PACE’s volunteer and outreach coordinator.

Last year, PACE held its first supply drive, helping over 90 families.

This year, the drive began June 18 and ends July 31. They are looking for donations of new school supplies or gift cards for stores that sell supplies. Donations can be dropped off at the PACE center at 1010 SE Fourth Ave., Darilus said.

The supplies will be distributed to anyone who attends PACE’s “Happy and Healthy: Back to School Edition” Health Fair from noon to 4 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel at 3726 SW 40th Blvd. in Gainesville. It is free.

Along with the school supply distribution, there will be information tables on health, Zumba, yoga classes and other fun activities, Darilus said.

Post 16

The Women’s Auxiliary, which is part of the veteran organization American Legion Haisley Lynch Post 16 in Gainesville, is holding a school supply drive for elementary school students.

The group has held the drive the last three years. This year’s drive started on June 1 and ends on Labor Day.

Community members can come by American Legion Post 16 at 4701 NW Sixth St. to drop off supplies in a large box said Brenda Edvardsson, the group’s secretary and the first vice commander for American Legion.

Members from affiliated groups have also donated including the Sons of the American Legions and the Legion Riders, Edvardsson said.

After Labor Day, the Auxiliary will give the supplies they collected to Chester Shell Elementary School in Hawthorne.

The group focuses its efforts on one school because its drive typically doesn’t result in enough materials to evenly distribute among multiple schools.

“They do not get a lot of contributions from a lot of different places,” Edvardsson said. “The schools in Gainesville proper tend to get more contributions from people but Shell (Elementary) is a small school in Hawthorne, and we just felt they would be able to benefit better.”

County schools

Alachua County Public Schools is hosting its annual school supply drive with donations being dispersed to all public schools in the county.

“With the level of funding that comes for schools, we’re not able to supply every single thing, so this just helps us to be able to do that,” said Kelley Kostamo, business partner specialist for the school system.

The drive began last week and continues until Labor Day. School officials are looking for donations of any new or gently-used school supplies that can be dropped off in collection bins at Terwilliger Elementary or the VyStar Credit Union two locations at 3616 SW 34th St. and 5023 NW Eighth Ave. in Gainesville.

Cash contributions also can be made to the Education Foundation of Alachua County to help fill gaps in for supplies that aren’t donated, Kostamo said.

“We want every student to be successful, and so, you need certain supplies in order to be successful,” Kostamo said. “You need pencils, you need your folders and papers to keep organized, and so, we want every kid to start out the year with the supplies that they need.”

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