The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

August 16, 2013

Conneaut school supply distribution is a big hit

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Tammy Ledford’s first stint as coordinator of Conneaut’s school supply distribution Wednesday afternoon proved a satisfying experience.

Ledford, director of the Right Track after-school program at the Conneaut Human Resources Center, said families were waiting outside well before the annual distribution began. “I understand people were starting to line up at 10 a.m.,” she said.

A mere two hours into the distribution, more than 500 children had received free supplies — anything from pens and paper to binders and book bags — to help each their return to the classroom later this month. That number will climb when school begins and students discover they don’t have the materials required by their teachers, organizers said.

“I think things went extremely smooth,” Ledford said.

Ledford had plenty of assistance from volunteers, especially members of the Conneaut Education Association who helped create supply bags for kids.

“I had so much help from the CEA and the teachers,” Ledford said. Also on hand to assist was State Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, she said.

The biggest need was among the older children, Ledford said.

“We had to make more (supply bags) for the middle and high school students,” she said. “And we ran out of book bags.”

Much of the distribution was made possible from donations from businesses, churches, clubs and individuals. Everyone was very generous, Ledford said.

“I’m really happy with the response,” she said.

Deborah Newcomb, CHRC executive director, echoed Ledford’s remarks.

“I’m very pleased,” she said. “We had a great response to our plea for donations.”

The distribution is aimed at relieving some of the financial sting families face when the time comes to prepare their kids for school. The need is especially acute in Conneaut, according to the Ohio Department of Education. In its 2011-2012 “report card” for the Conneaut Area City Schools district, the ODE said 61 percent of the 1,838 kids enrolled at that time were considered “economically disadvantaged.”

“The cost of supplies can be a burden, especially for parents with several children,” Newcomb said.