Book bag giveway set for Saturday

Published 4:49 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2012

With gas prices back on the rise and the economy slumping, parents with young children in school could use a break these days.

Thanks to the City of Greenville, relief is just around the corner.

In conjunction with the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Retired Teachers Association, the City will be giving away 500 book bags filled with school supplies.

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The giveaway will be held at the YMCA beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Superintendent of Butler County Schools Darren Douthitt was pleased that supplies would be going to several deserving children, and he said that the event meant a lot to him on a personal level.

“I was one of those kids who often went to school without supplies,” Douthitt said. “I know we have kids in this county who start school unprepared, so it’s huge for their morale.”

Francine Wasden, executive director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce, said that she was also very excited about the opportunity to provide supplies to the children of Butler County Schools.

“They are all so deserving and we want them to have every opportunity possible,” Wasden said. “We also hope this will take a little of the expense away from the parents because we realize just how expensive it is to get a child ready for a new school year.”

The book bags (as well as the supplies within) are aimed at students anywhere between first and eight grades.

All of them are the same, sporting a black canvas material with lots of pockets.

Supplies included are pencils, pens, crayons, washable markers, paper, composition notebooks, pocket folders, spiral notebooks and rulers.

Wasden said that the giveaway has been a collaborative effort, and that credit should go where it is due.

“Mayor McLendon was instrumental in raising this money,” Wasden said. “I also want to thank the Retired Teachers Association for their volunteer work and for helping us give these bags away, and a special thank you to those who donated money for this very worthwhile project.”

Mayor Dexter McLendon is not only responsible for a large percentage of the donations, but he’s also the mastermind behind the giveaway.

He said that his inspiration for the event came from a very heartwarming source.

“I saw a local pastor giving out supplies last year, and I thought that this is something that we should be doing,” McLendon said. “His intentions were great, but they just didn’t have the money to do it.”

This is the first time such a giveaway has been held, but McLendon is making the necessary preparations to ensure that things run smoothly.

“We’re doing a dry run on Friday, and everybody’s going to know where their stations are,” McLendon said. “It shouldn’t take any more than five to ten minutes to come by the YMCA and walk out with book bags and school supplies.”

“It will be like going to a buffet,” he joked.