Common Ground preps for summer

05/12/2014 10:11 PM

05/12/2014 10:12 PM

Glue, scissors, crayons and pencils don’t cost a lot of money, but for some people the price tag can be more than their budget can handle.

“If you have more than one child, it adds up,” said Victoria Dodd, treasurer for Common Ground Network and co-chair for the school supplies committee. “Over 18 years ago, Common Ground saw that there was a need in the community for school supplies. A lot of children were not prepared on the first week of school, so Common Ground started the school supply drive.”

People who need assistance can apply from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at St. Jude Catholic Church, 310 Graves St. Photo identification for the parent/guardian, proof of residency in the Mansfield school district, child’s birth certificate and proof of income will be required. People who are approved for assistance will be notified and can pick up the school supplies Aug. 9, Dodd said.

Students entering pre-kindergarten through eighth grade whose parents are approved for assistance will receive pre-packaged bundles of school supplies, Dodd said.

“The kids are so excited to have these supplies and know that when school starts they will have the supplies that are required,” she said. “The parents are very appreciative. We realize that it isn’t everything the child is going to need, but it gives them a good start.”

Common Ground, a non-profit group of churches and civic organizations, also helps students prepare for school with Feed the Kids for Summer, said Suzy Herrmann, co-chair of the Feed the Kids and a Common Ground board member. The program, which will run from June 4 through Aug. 13, gives students bags containing five breakfasts, five lunches and five snacks on a weekly basis throughout the summer.

“The counselors came to us in 2007 and asked how we could help kids on free and reduced lunch during the summer,” Herrmann said. “They were coming back after summer break malnourished and sluggish. They’ve seen a difference in the performance of these kids from before we started the program. Our experience is that the kids are coming back ready to learn.”

Two years ago, Common Ground started offering books for the students to read, too.

Volunteers are needed to help unload the food and pack it into bags for the kids, Herrmann said. Sponsors are also needed for Feed the Kids, which is funded by donations. When the program started in 2007, Common Ground handed out 2,000 bags. Herrmann estimates that it will cost $55,000 to feed 9,500 kids this year.

“The big difference is we are giving shelf-stable milk every week instead of every other week this year,” Herrmann said. “We just got a milk sponsor, Walnut Ridge Baptist Church.

“We go week to week,” Herrmann said. “It’s all by faith. We’ve never had to not complete a program.”

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