Well, it’s that time of year again for students to be thinking about heading back to school. Hard to believe, but Fort Wayne Community Schools will be back in session on August 14. I remember as a child that some of my friends didn’t even want to think about school until they absolutely had to, but I always kind of looked forward to the start of a new school year.
For many families this is an exciting time of year as they take their children shopping for new clothes and new school supplies. For some, though, spending the extra funds for their children to go to school presents a financial hardship. An education is so important in the fight against poverty that we here at the township take the challenges faced by these struggling families very seriously, and we try to help out in every way we can. In August each year we start ramping up the back-to-school activities in several of our departments.
For households already struggling financially, spending money on books, clothes and other needed school items often means that other expenses get behind. That’s when clients come to us seeking help. After reviewing a family’s income and expenditures we often find that they are eligible for Township Assistance, maybe for help with a utility bill or a rent payment. By helping in this way we can make sure that the children in the household don’t suffer because their parents have a financial setback.
There are many places in town that children can get free lunches during the summer, but those programs end before school is back in session. Families may need help feeding their children before the reduced-lunch program can supply them with a daily meal. The demand on our food pantry often picks up considerably at this time of year, especially in the week before school starts.
School clothes are another necessity we can help with here at the township. Our Clothing Emporium, a store of donated items, offers children’s clothes in all sizes, and often we have school uniform items like polo shirts, khakis and navy skirts and pants.
Since 2008 we have stocked a school supply ‘store’ at the Wayne Township Trustee Office. You may have heard me tell how, back in 2007 when I first took office, one of our staff members at the time, Sharon Conrad, was doing her personal shopping when she ran across some bargains on school supplies that were just too good to pass up. She bought a large quantity of pencils, markers, notebooks, and other items and brought them in to the township office for the investigators to give to clients who needed them. This was such a boon to our families that each year after that during the month of August, we have purchased and distributed school supplies through our Investigations Department.
This year two of our staff members, Shataya Little and Andrea Martinez, are running our School Supply Store. It is well-stocked with colorful backpacks, pens, pencils and erasers, hand sanitizers, notebooks, and other items on the list of needed supplies the schools send home with students.
In the last column I talked about the Recognizing Achievement Scholarships and the Academic Encouragement Awards the township presented to students this summer. This year these scholarships, the money for which was raised without using taxpayer dollars, helped four RAS graduating students with educational expenses like book bills, dormitory items and other college necessities and eleven younger AEA scholars with Amazon Fire 7 Tablets.
In all these ways the Wayne Township Trustee Office continues in its commitment to help needy families with the cost of education so that the next generation can keep improving their chances at a bright future and successful life. Isn’t that what we want for all of our children?