August 24, 2009 in City

Giveaway runs out of school supplies in 45 minutes

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photo

Volunteer Jan Martin packs backpacks for the annual school supplies giveaway Aug. 24, 2009, at the Salvation Army in Spokane. The backpacks ran out after about 30 minutes and the rest of the supplies ran out after 45 minutes.
(Full-size photo)

Supplies needed
The Salvation Army is seeking donations of additional school supplies for distribution to needy families. Monetary donations and supplies can be dropped off at the Salvation Army, 222 E. Indiana Ave. Collection bins also will be accepted at these partner locations until Aug. 31: Any Fred Meyer, Shopko, Dollar Store or Rite-Aid store, and at the Spokane County Sherriff’s Office, 1100 W. Mallon Ave.

Distribution to families in need of school supplies will continue Tuesday from 1-7 p.m. at the Salvation Army. Supplies will be distributed while they last. For information call (509) 325-6810 or go to the local Salvation Army Web site.

Ann Bradshaw came to the Salvation Army on Monday afternoon hoping to get much-needed help with school supplies for her two boys, who start classes Thursday.

Instead Bradshaw and her children faced the grim realization that they are not the only ones in need of help in tough economic times.

Hundreds of families were turned away from the Salvation Army’s annual school-supplies distribution, 45 minutes after the event began. After 30 minutes, all 300 backpacks filled with supplies were gone, and families still in line had to settle for partial supply lists.

“Nobody wants to send their kids to school empty-handed,” Bradshaw said. “I’m just glad some families got what they needed. I’ll just have to come back tomorrow and see what happens.”

But unless a “miracle” happens and hordes of supplies are donated overnight, Salvation Army officials aren’t optimistic about what they will have to distribute Tuesday.

While more supplies were donated this year than in years past, the need is also greater. More than 800 kids were helped last year with back-to-school items. Officials this year expect more than 1,000 students.

“This year is unique because of the economy. People are hurting and people have lost their jobs,” said Kyle Smith, the officer in charge of Spokane’s Salvation Army on East Indiana Avenue. “There are people in line who normally would be donating supplies to us. Instead they are here.”

Smith said supplies were collected on behalf of the Salvation Army by Rite Aid, Fred Meyer, Shopko and Dollar Stores. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office also collected a slew of items.

After the backpacks were gone, volunteers loaded paper, pencils, crayons and whatever was left into Hallmark gift bags for distribution. About 644 families were served before supplies were exhausted, officials said. Some only received partial bags with a few of the required items on back-to-school supply lists for local schools.

Aaron and Trisha Kaiser were surprised to hear that the supplies were already gone when they arrived just a half-hour after the start. The event was supposed to go until 7 p.m.

“Last year we spent $30, but this year we don’t even have enough money to pay our bills,” Trisha Kaiser said. She said her family will return Tuesday, in hopes additional supplies will be available.

“We’ll just do what we can. We always have,” Kaiser said.

Smith said officials were going to spend about $1,000 on supplies Monday evening for distribution Tuesday.

“We will have something to distribute, but it’s not going to be a lot,” Smith said. “People think of the Salvation Army as a place to get help. Hopefully, we are able to do that.”

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