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BAY COUNTY — About $70,000 will go toward helping more than 1,600 Bay County students go back to school in style and stocked up on supplies.

The United Way of Bay County and Do-All Inc. are hosting back-to-school drives that will give students a new outfit and a backpack filled with all necessary school supplies.

This marks the seventh year for the United Way of Bay County’s Back to School Clothing Program. Last year, the program helped 459 Bay County students go to school with a new outfit, including a new pair of shoes.

“It’s so important for these kids to go back to school with new clothes and a new pair of tennis shoes,” said United Way Executive Director and CEO Jennifer Carroll. “Some children will be going into November and still wearing just a pair of flip flops because that’s all they have.”

Carroll said about 800 children qualified for this year’s drive — an increase of more than 300 children from 2009. Since 2008, the nonprofit organization experienced four times the number of eligible students.

The United Way targets students from families that are at a poverty level income.

The deadline to apply has expired, but Carroll said they will still accept applications. Those applying after the deadline, however, won’t be guaranteed a new outfit.

b483e645ca470b7c7e7a3f2ea593e94d_custom_665xauto.jpgSarah Beth, 2, of Bay City receives a backpack from her mom, Sue Bowman, during the first day of backpack and school supplies distribution in 2009 at the Do-All Material Assistance Center, 1465 W. Center Rd, in Essexville.

 

The community can help by contributing any cash donation or by adopting a student. By adopting a student, you are responsible for purchasing the entire new outfit.

Carroll said a new clothing outfit, which includes a pair of tennis shoes, socks, underwear, jeans or pants and a shirt, averages about $60.

“It’s really on the community to step up and help these students out,” said Carroll.

In Hampton Township, the Do-All Inc. Community Treasure Chest program that gives away a backpack filled with school supplies is still accepting applications until Aug. 20. Distribution of the backpacks is Aug. 23 at the Cat’s Meow Material Assistance Center, 1465 W. Center Ave.

Families who still want to apply must do so at the material assistance center.

Since 2006, when the nonprofit gave away about 300 backpacks, the need has nearly tripled. Last year, 850 backpacks were given away.

Krystal Corrion, director at the material assistance center, said the program also relies on help from the community, but any size donation goes a long way.

“That’s what I really love about this program,” she said. “We appreciate the big donations, but if a person can only do a little bit, that makes a big difference too.

“So, watch for the sales. People can really spend their dollars wisely.”

Supplies needed include notebook paper, spiral notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, glue, erasers, pocket folders, pencil cases, colored pencils and pencil sharpeners.

Corrion likes to use all cash donations to buy backpacks in bulk because they are the most expensive item given away, but the community also can donate new backpacks.

Each backpack given away is valued at about $40, said Corrion. So last year, about $34,000 in supplies were donated.

“We’ve really grown,” she said, “and every year, we have never had to turn anyone away.”

 
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