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Sunday May 29th, 2016 9:46AM

School supply help efforts underway

By Derreck Booth Anchor/reporter
GAINESVILLE - It's back to school time and several organizations in our area are working to help less fortunate children with school supplies.

Riverbend Baptist Church in Gainesville is partnering with its Joe's Place day shelter to offer free backpacks and supplies in its fifth annual School Supply Open House.

"There's a good list school supplies; spiral-bound notebooks, hygiene packs, there's paper. I think they have writing utensils and a few other odds and ends," Riverbend Missions and Evangelism Pastor Ken Grindle said.

The open house begins at 9:00 a.m. Saturday at the church on Cleveland Highway in Gainesville.

Grindle said the event also helps children and families spiritually.

"People get to hear the Gospel. That's the life-changing message and most important thing. On top of that, they get to experience the thing that is behind the Gospel and that's the love of God and the love of Christ," Grindle said.

While the final work on the supplies is being done at Riverbend, another couple of organizations are hot and heavy into supply collection.

United Way of Hall County is once again partnering with Publix Super Markets for the School Tools for Cool Kids program.

United Way of Hall County President & Chief Professional Officer Jackie Wallace said you can donate supplies at any Publix store through August 12.

"We try every year to give at least one box to each school in both systems (Gainesville and Hall County) for the teachers and the counselors to distribute to the children who need them," Wallace said.

It's an effort that puts the tools in the hand of educators that are in direct contact with students in need.

"It may be that a child just needs a couple of pencils or a notebook. It may be that another child needs more than that, so we have for several years worked with the school systems," Wallace said.

All school supplies are needed, according to Wallace. If you choose, Wallace said you can purchase pre-packaged supplies at Publix.

Thursday, Moss Robertson Automotive Group, Saint Paul United Methodist Church of Lumpkin County and Caring Hands Ministry were handing out school supplies to students in need.

That effort, called Back to School Blessing, was scheduled to run through 7:00 p.m. If you are in need of school supplies, clothes and shoes and have a financial need then you are invited, according to the church's website.

The trio of organizations has helped over 700 students with supplies annually for the past two years.
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