Hundreds of Valley schoolchildren will be heading back to class next month a little better prepared for the business of learning because of the generosity of their neighbors.
Thanks to organizations and individuals who collected and donated school supplies to its Smart Start program, the Spokane Valley Center was able to help outfit more than 600 needy kids with back-to-school gear this week.
Valley Center staff and volunteers distributed 5,130 pencils, 912 pens, 550 boxes of crayons, 370 bottles of glue and 125 erasers, along with dozens of backpacks and other school supplies, to the youngsters on Wednesday.
Each child registered for the Smart Start program got a back-to-school package prepared just for him or her.
“The highlight of the entire program is watching our youngest recipients open something prepared especially for them,” said Barbara Olson, executive director of the Valley Center. “The giggles and smiles of delight and glee cannot be manufacturered.
“Several teachers have commented that the joy is evident during the first days of school, as the students carefully pull out and use their new things. For some, new school supplies are just the ticket to get children in a positive frame of mind and ready to learn.”
The Smart Start program received enormous support from the Valley community, Olson said.
Major donors of school supplies or money included Veradale United Church of Christ, Millwood Presbyterian Church, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, St. Mary’s School, River City VW Club, Veradale TOPS, and numerous individuals, Olson said.
The Inland Empire Council of Camp Fire Boys and Girls was the largest contributor to Smart Start, Olson said.
Camp Fire members stood in front of the Valley’s Rosauers, Wal Mart and K-Mart stores on the weekends of Aug. 9 and 10 and Aug. 16 and 17 to solicit donations from shoppers. In all, the Camp Fire kids gathered nearly half of the school supplies needed to meet this year’s demand.
The Smart Start program was begun in 1993. Since then, it has served more than 3,000 Valley schoolchildren.
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