Filling a need: Groups rally to give away school supplies

DOVER — With the start of a new school year looming just a couple of weeks away, most students are still trying to squeeze in as much summer fun as they can before those buses arrive and that dreaded first bell rings.

Mount Zion American Methodist Episcopal Church, in partnership with several other churches in the downtown Dover area, is offering students and their families an opportunity to combine some fun along with preparing for the upcoming school year by hosting the 14th annual Back2School Community Fair on Fulton Street between North West and Queen streets on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

“This is always an exciting time for me,” said Pam Connelly, one of the event’s coordinators. “I think its important for our students to go back to school with at least the basic stuff they need so they can be look forward to the start of brand-new school year knowing they will have the supplies they need to achieve success.”

The Dover event is just one of many regional campaigns planned to help students get ready for school and a number of donation drives are set to provide backpacks and school supplies to students in need.

The Back2School Community Fair will kick off with breakfast for students from 8:30 until 9:45 a.m. at Mount Zion A.M.E. Church, located at 101 N. Queen St., Dover High School’s “Rolling Thunder” drumline will be bringing the beat and performing their tricks with drumsticks from 9 until 9:20 before the event’s opening ceremony takes place from 9:20 until 9:50.

Parents are welcome to enjoy breakfast and attend a workshop with Capital School District administrators and students from 10 until 11.

The free school supply giveaway and festivities will take place from 11 until 1:30 p.m. (students must be present to receive supplies). There will also be coat and clothing giveaways at the Solid Rock Baptist Church, food, health screenings, a scavenger hunt and educational information offered and raffle drawings for a pair of bicycles at the DJ booth at 1:30 p.m.

Ms. Connelly has been a part of every school supply drive for Mount Zion A.M.E. Church over the years.

“It started out just being our church and every year it’s just gotten bigger and bigger,” she said. “It’s grown so much that the last two years it has become more of a combined effort among several of the churches in the area. We appreciate everyone’s support.”

Anchor Church in Milford

Last year, more than 100 students were given a free elementary sized uniform and school supplies in Milford with the help of Anchor Church and other community entities.

This year, the church hopes to double its impact on the event, which will be held Aug. 17 from 10 to noon from the Milford Library Ampitheatre.

“Before we even started the church, we connected with the school district and starting seeing this huge need. It was something that resonated with us as a church, something we could help with,” Pastor Paul Bowman said.

Love Milford: A Back to School Event is now in its second year. Students can receive free haircuts and lunch during the early afternoon event. Facepainting and live music will be found, entertaining students as well as providing for their schooling needs. All told, Pastor Bowman said it costs about $25 per child, but everything is offered to the students at no cost during this event.

“We’ll have giveaways, too. A local woodworker is building a child sized desk, so someone will be able to take home a desk to do their schoolwork on. We’ll be giving away a bike and we’ll have a teacher gift basket giveaway. We’ve done that in the past, but we’re doing it at the same time as this event this year,” he added.

Pastor Bowman said the church is focused on Milford School District students but won’t turn anyone away, emphasizing the first-come, first-serve nature of their event.

“Our hope for this is just to really give kids in need a good start for the school year. We’ve worked pretty close with the school district since we started and just realizing the need in the district is so high. We help kids in homeless situations and maybe not fully homeless, but just high poverty situations,” he explained.

“The library works great with us letting us use their space. Downtown Parks & Recs, we work with them. Everyone we’ve worked with or come in contact with have been super supportive. It’s not a church promotion thing, it’s not a PR thing. We’re really simply trying to make it about blessing the community and helping kids in need. And I think people see that and they appreciate that. I think that’s why we’ve seen local businesses get on board. Everyone can get behind helping kids in need and that’s really what we’re trying to do,” he said.

For more information or to help with donations ahead of this event, visit AnchorMilford.com or www.facebook.com/anchormilford.

Police, DART stuff the bus

The Delaware State Police Community Outreach Unit has established a program to assist elementary school-aged children in need get the necessities for school. Troopers are asking for donations to fill each child’s backpack with school supplies.

In partnership with DART First State, the state police are offering a stuff the bus collection point next Wednesday at the Rehoboth Beach WalMart from noon until 6 p.m.

Donations can be taken to the Delaware State Police Headquarters at 1441 N. Dupont Highway in Dover or to any troop statewide. Donation boxes also will be stationed at all Delaware State Police Federal Credit Union locations.

The donations will be collected until Aug. 30.

Adopt-A-Student program

The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is asking people to considering helping students in need get off to a good start this school year by participating in the annual Adopt-A-Student program.

DHSS, in partnership with the Human Services Council, Inc., is seeking individuals, businesses and organizations to help thousands of children living in poverty or in low-income households by providing backpacks, school supplies, and gift cards to purchase uniforms, or by choosing items to purchase for students via an online donation portal. The deadline for donations is Monday for online purchases and Aug. 19 for donations dropped off at Adopt-A-Student office locations.

“The work done by the Adopt-A-Student program – thanks to the generosity of sponsors and donors – helps make sure all Delaware children are ready to start learning on the first day of school,” DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker said.

Designed to encourage a positive attitude toward school by helping with the supplies that students need to achieve success, Adopt-A-Student accepts backpacks and school supply donations, as well as $50 gift cards to retail stores that carry school uniforms such as Rainbow and Walmart. In addition, merchant credit gift cards ($30) are recommended from Forman Mills.

From 2016 through 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 15 percent of Delawareans lived below the poverty line.

For information in Kent and Sussex counties, call 302-424-7260 or email elizabeth.senato@delaware.gov. Donation hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit https://www.roonga.com/aas2019kent or https://www.roonga.com/aas2019sussex.

In 2018, the Adopt-A-Student program helped more than 900 Delaware students.

Other charitable events

• DOVER: My Family Resource Center is hosting a Back to School Giveaway at the Microtel Inn and Suites at 1703 E. Lebanon Road on Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The free event will offer school supplies, health screenings, hair cuts for boys, hair styling for girls, information and resources. For more information, call 302-725-5010. Call ahead to reserve hair appointments.

• FELTON: The Felton-Viola United Methodist Church is hosting a Lake Forest school uniform giveaway on Aug. 19. The event will take place at the church, at 101 E. Main Street in Felton, from 4 until 7 p.m.

One new uniform shirt will be provided for each student in the family while supplies last. There will be used uniform shirts, pants, skirts and dresses in adult and children’s sizes.

• LAUREL: There will be a Back to School Jamboree presented by The Ark Educational Resource Center on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Janosik Park at 208 E. Front Street in Laurel.

Free filled backpacks will be provided to students. Tickets for backpacks can be printed from www.eventbrite.com or visit the Laurel State Service Center. The jamboree will feature food, music, games and prizes. The rain date is Aug. 17.

• LEWES: Lessard Builders and All Climate Storage Center are hosting a school supply drive from now through Aug. 21. All collected school supplies will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware, Rehoboth Beach Club, before the start of the school year.

There will be collection boxes at: Lessard Builders’ model, The Saltaire, 18244 Show Jumper Lane, and All Climate Storage Center, 17845 Shady Road, both in Lewes. Items needed include backpacks, composition books, folders, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, erasers, and Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.

All donated items will be delivered to the Rehoboth Beach Boys and Girls Club on Aug. 29.

• A Back to School event will be held on Aug. 23 from 6 until 8 p.m. at Trinity Faith Christian Center at 15516 New Road. Backpacks and school supplies will be given away. Those interested should contact 302-745-7295 or 302-344-8260 with the age of your child or to receive more information.

• MILFORD: My Family Resource Center is hosting a Back to School Giveaway at 105 N.E. Front Street on Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The free event will offer school supplies, health screenings, hair cuts for boys, hair styling for girls, information and resources. For information, call 302-725-5010. Call ahead to reserve hair appointments.

•REHOBOTH: My Family Resource Center is hosting a Back to School Giveaway at 134 Norwood St. on Aug. 31 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The free event will offer school supplies, health screenings, hair cuts for boys, hair styling for girls, information and resources. For information, call 302-725-5010. Call ahead to reserve hair appointments.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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