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Published: Wednesday, 8/20/2003

City program supplies students

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The city, with the help of local businesses, will give out 500 book bags and other school materials on a first-come, first-served basis at Smith Park, Dorr Street and Forest Avenue, beginning at 11 a.m. Students must come with a parent or guardian.

This is the second year the city has participated in a program to help needy students prepare for school.

“Thank God for this,” said Ms. Johnson, who cares for her 15-year-old granddaughter, a student at Woodward High School, and two Spring Elementary pupils, an 11-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. “I buy school clothes first and then try to take care of the school supplies.

“I was planning on buying a little bit here and a little bit there until they had them. That's the only way you can do it on a fixed income.”

Mr. Ford said during a news conference yesterday that he didn't want a single student to attend school without the proper supplies. The city gave away book bags at several parks last year, but this year settled on Smith Park to have one location.

He said, though, he didn't want to exclude other parts of the city where students may need the materials.

“We want to show students that we are interested in them getting off to a quick start,” Mr. Ford said. “I want to make sure there is no reason that students should not have supplies the first day of school.”

Mr. Ford said he thought 500 bags was a solid target number for the giveaway. He said the city might secure other donations if the numbers of those wanting bags exceeds 500.

Several sponsors said they felt participating in the supply giveaway was an event that really makes a difference for students and schools.

Paul Sopko, Cricket Communications area manager, said he was overwhelmed by the response of the children during last year's giveaway, and it was the main reason why he wanted his company to be a part of it this year.

“You have to go out there to see how appreciative the children were,” Mr. Sopko said. “That's where the story is. For me, it made all the difference in the world, and you knew you were doing something worthwhile and important.”

Other sponsors include Office Depot, PACTS Office Supply/Superior Industrial, Columbia Gas, Job 1 USA, The Douglas Company, ProMedica Health Systems, and Huntington Bank.

The mayor said the city's Board of Community Relations and the city's Youth Commission helped coordinate the event this year.

Ms. Johnson said she is just thrilled to see her grandchildren attend the first day of school with the materials they need. “This is truly a blessing,” she said.



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