Operation School Supplies collects 10,000 items

August 21, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

While mentoring children at Salem Avenue Elementary School last year, Erin Brennan and her six fellow Hagerstown Jaycees couldn't help but notice that many youngsters lacked vital school supplies.

"We thought it would be a great idea to come up with a school supply collection drive, working with businesses and stores and the public at large," Brennan said.

Out of that idea came Operation School Supplies, which in its first year has collected 10,979 items ranging from notebook paper to three-ring binders, spiral notebooks, crayons, pencils, glue, pencil boxes, scissors, pens, folders and even backpacks.

"The Hagerstown Jaycees signed a school/business partnership with the Washington County Board of Education," Brennan said. That led to the use of vital storage space in the board's storage facility on West North Street.


And next Tuesday, board of education employees will sort and distribute the items to the Title I schools in Washington County.

"This was a wonderful idea," said Dr. Herman Bartlett, superintendent of schools. "We are more than willing to cooperate all we can."

Brennan said the idea was amazingly simple. The execution of that idea was a lot of work but she and her fellow Jaycees said it was more than worth the sweat equity.

"The first thing we did was get sponsors to finance the start-up costs," Brennan said. Those included the 32 four-foot-high school-bus yellow boxes, fliers and signs that were placed in 23 locations around the county.

Patrons of those stores could buy extra school supplies and drop them into the boxes at the front of the stores, Brennan said.

And they did ... 10,979 times between July 18 and Aug. 15.

"About 6,000 kids have been identified as needing help getting school supplies in this county," Brennan said. "We've been very pleased with how the people of this county have poured out their hearts to this project."

Sponsors and collection points included Hagerstown Trust Co., Staples, Wal-Mart, Antietam Cable, Martin's Food Stores, Alling and Cory Paper Company, Citicorp, Congregation B'Nai Abraham, Hagerstown Community College, Kmart, St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Lappans, St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Leitersburg, the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Hagerstown and Valley Mall.

The next step is to spread the word about the project to other Jaycees chapters, Brennan said.

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