Fort Wayne Community Schools will be back in session August 13th, and here at the township we are gearing up for the new school year. While some children may wish for endless summer vacation, I always kind of looked forward to the start of a new school year…getting back to some structured time to learn new things, meet new friends and spend time with kids I only saw at school.
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, however, 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, and we at the township take the challenges faced by struggling families very seriously. We try to help out in every way we can. In late July and early August each year we start ramping up the back-to-school activities in several of our departments.
When parents in a household are 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.
And then there’s food. During the summer there are several programs around town that provide meals for children who, during the school year qualify for free or reduced lunches. However those programs end before school is back in session. During that gap in time, families often need help feeding their children before they return to school. The demand on our food pantry often picks up considerably then, especially in the week before school starts. Fortunately, we are able to help with that.
School clothes are another necessity we help with here at the township. Our Clothing Emporium, a store of donated items that are sometimes new and sometimes gently used, 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. Back in 2007 when I first took office, staff member Sharon Conrad 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 so much appreciated by our client families that each year after that we have purchased and distributed school supplies through our Investigations Department.
This year, staff member Jennifer George has taken the helm of our School Supply Store. She shops for, organizes and sets out the items that are needed when children start the school year. The store is currently ready and 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 introduced this year’s winners of the Recognizing Achievement Scholarships and the Academic Encouragement Awards the township presented this summer. These scholarships, the money for which was raised without using taxpayer dollars, helped five RAS graduating students with educational expenses like book bills, dormitory items and other college necessities and eighteen younger AEA scholars with new Amazon Fire Tablets.
So we are ready and eager for the start of the 2019-2020 school year, and I hope you are, too. If not and if we can be of help, stop in to see us.
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