#8216;Tools for Schools#8217; a success

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 14, 2006

More than 2,000 kids, parents and grandparents waited patiently outside the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ironton Saturday morning for the third annual Back-to-School Giveaway.

The drive provides necessary school supplies for Lawrence County-area pre-schoolers as well as those in grades K-12 in need of monetary assistance.

According to statistics compiled by the St. Paul Lutheran Church, about 23.1 percent of the Ironton population — at 11,000 — is living below the poverty line, and of those, 32.4 percent are under the age of 18.

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In response to these facts, “Tools for Schools” was formed in Aug. 2004, as an opportunity to give children school supplies that will further learning and in turn, foster emotional and development growth.

“No questions, no requirements” is the motto of the one of the head organizers of “Tools for Schools,” said the Rev. Mike Poole of the St. Lutheran Church.

“We don’t require people to show proof (of their need) … There’s something degrading about proving your poverty —where’s the dignity?” he said. “We only ask (you) what school district and what grade.” This back-to-school giveaway makes school supplies available to almost everyone.

In fact, Poole has created a goal for the next three years: to be able to offer backpacks, books, coloring utensils and more to all the children in the area. That’s 10,000 children.

The event, which began at 10 a.m., has always been successful, Poole said.. He remarked that some people come as early as 6 a.m. to stand in line for supplies.

This year was no exception. About 2,500 backpacks were filled with grade-level supplies and given to children in need. More than 75 volunteers participated in the “Tools for Schools” drive on Saturday, and the total event took 1,500-2,000 hours to plan, assemble and distribute.

Ingrid Helgeson, a volunteer for the second year, passed out cookies to the children.

“This is a great thing to be a part of … and that it (“Tools for Schools”) is a good start for school,” she said.

Jerry Wilson, a volunteer in the backpack section, agrees.

“It’s neat to see all the little smiles on their faces. It’s like Christmas for them,” he said.

Charles Taylor can attest to this statement. While he waited in line, he commented that he brought his son, stepdaughter, and two grandsons for the second year.

The drive was made possible with the support of the Southern Ohio Synod, All Saints Lutheran Church in Worthington, Ohio, Resurrection Lutheran Church in Hilliard, and the generosity of the community — corporate and individual donors and volunteers

If interested in volunteering or making a donation, contact the Rev. Mike Poole of the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ironton.