Florence Christian Church school supply drive uses unique model to ease burden on struggling families

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The Christian Church of Florence is raising funds until the end of August for its annual school supply drive. Each year, the church collects donations to purchase discounted school supplies to donate to the 36 elementary, middle, and high schools in Boone County.

There are many barriers to education for children with mental illness, facing language barriers, or living in families stressed by job loss or homelessness. The annual school supply drive at Florence Christian Church aims to remove a barrier to success for Boone County students from low-income families. This barrier is access to school supplies at the start of each school year.

Back-to-school campaigns are not uncommon, but the Christian Church of Florence’s effort is unique in its targeted approach. Maleah Rhodes, the campaign’s volunteer administrator, has been involved for more than 15 years.

(Photo of the Christian Church in Florence)

Rhodes said the most effective and equitable way to meet the needs of as many children as possible is to let schools distribute the supplies to children who don’t have what they need.

“I contact the family resource centers at each school and get a specific list of supplies requested by teachers,” she said. “The resource coordinators then ‘order’ supplies from us. Schools receive exactly what they know will be used, and students receive classroom-specific supplies. »

This is especially true for high school students according to Laura Mosqueda, coordinator of the Conner High School Youth Services Center.

“High school students don’t have specific school supply lists like younger students,” Mosqueda said. “They often receive their supply lists on the first day of class. For some parents and guardians who work shifts or wait for their next paycheck to get things for their children, this system doesn’t work. Sometimes students are even upset if they don’t bring their supplies on time.

Mosqueda said that by allowing schools to have supplies available, students don’t feel “less than” immediately in the New Year. Teachers can ask students to discreetly approach administrators so they can get the supplies they need.

Kathy Roaden, coordinator of the Thornwilde Elementary School Family Resource Center, said the program also serves to reduce stress in students who may face a language barrier or other circumstances that make communication difficult. of their needs.

“For students with language barriers, having the necessary school supplies helps them feel comfortable knowing they’re ready for class,” she said. “They don’t have to try to explain or figure out what is needed and why they may or may not have it. So, by providing them with the necessary supplies, we alleviate the initial school-related stress and anxiety.

Roaden said families experiencing homelessness or other dramatic life events are often forced to prioritize what they need to survive, and school supplies are often at the bottom of that list. These tough decisions can create an unnecessarily stressful situation for students.

“It’s not that they don’t want their kids ready for school, but worrying about paying the bills or having a safe place to sleep will take priority,” Roaden said. “By taking a little thing off their plate, providing school supplies, gives them some breathing room to focus on other things. It’s a huge stress reliever for families facing a crisis. ”

Garrett Griffith, coordinator of the Collins Elementary Family Resource Center, said students with financial or mental health challenges already face a number of barriers to effective learning, and the Christian church’s school supplies program of Florence is another step to eliminate these obstacles.

“Students who suffer from anxiety or other mental health issues already face challenges that affect their full access to learning,” Griffith said. “By providing them with school supplies, we can help bridge the gap some may face in increasing their ability to participate in learning.”

The collection of school supplies continues until August 31. Donations can be made at florencechristian.breezechms.com by selecting “Donate to School Supply Drive” from the drop-down menu or by check sent to the church at 300 Main Street, Florence KY 41042.

Florence Christian Church

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