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MOUNT WASHINGTON — Going back to school is an exciting time for many Bullitt County students. But for struggling families trying to make ends meet, sending children back to school can mean a tough financial burden with the rising cost of supplies and fees.
Some local realtors with Century 21 Advantage Plus’ Mount Washington office recognize there are many local families financially unable to supply their children with the essentials to start the school year off right, so they banded together to help meet that need.
Agents Kathy Evans, Linda Mattingly and David Cunningham are coordinating a school supply donation drive to benefit Mount Washington Middle School. They have placed collection boxes at local business and will collect supplies through August.
The realtors chose MWMS to receive the donations after Youth Service Coordinator Megan Hatter told them middle schools are often overlooked during yearly school supply round-up efforts.
“We feel like they’re probably the ones who need the most attention and their supplies are the most expensive,” Mattingly said.
Hatter said most people tend to think of elementary school students having the greatest needs, but that is not always true. She said many community members don’t realize that as students age their supplies become more expensive.
“School supplies are quite different,” Hatter said of middle school. She noted that uniforms and calculators tend to cost more and that students need more than crayons, pencils and paper to succeed.
The agents are collecting tissues, hand sanitizer, paper towels, pencils, pens, colored pencils, loose-leaf paper, highlighters, three-pronged folders with pockets, one subject notebooks, gently used or new uniform items, tennis shoes, toiletries, rulers and any other supplies to help a middle school student succeed.
Evans said each of the three agents working on this first-time community project have children and know the financial burden parents experience.
“We all have children. We all know what it’s like at school time,” Evans said.
Hatter said she wanted the community to realize that the MWMS Youth Service Center caters to all types of families — those dealing with immediate and long-term needs. She said families do have to validate their need and, in some scenarios, rent items if financially able.
“ We’re empowering folks. We’re not enabling folks to get things free all the time,” Hatter said.
The MWMS Youth Service Center has been busier than ever this year and last. Hatter said she isn’t sure if that’s due to poor economic conditions or because of better community visibility.
“We’re definitely busy and that’s a good thing,” she said.
Local businesses, churches and organizations work hand-in-hand with the MWMS Youth Service Center all the time. Hatter said the center could not survive without efforts like the Century 21 school supply drive.
“It’s essential. The Youth Service Center does not provide first-hand the materials necessary and the resources. We are all in this together,” she said.
Mattingly said she and the other agents working on the project hoped the community would band together to help out the MWMS students. She added that if the middle school is unable or doesn’t need some of the collected items, they would be distributed to other Mount Washington schools.
“We’re hoping people will really contribute because there’s such a need,” Mattingly said.
Collection boxes will be out until the end of August and can be found at ValuMarket and Century 21 Advantage Plus at 10367 Highway 44 E. Anyone needing to make donations after hours can call 957-2121 to schedule a drop off.
Hatter also encouraged families needing the Youth Service Center’s assistance to call for an appointment at 538-4227 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Hatter said the community might never realize how much its generosity is appreciated.
“It’s one less expense for the family so that they can provide the money for bills and putting food on the table. We all remember what it felt like to wear brand new shoes to school. That’s not a given for a lot of these kids,” she said.