By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
The Family Success Center held its annual Cram the Van school supply drive on Saturday, July 22 at the Walmart stores in Attalla and East Gadsden.
The Cram the Van event was inspired by a similar event in Florida.
“We were trying to find something to help with back-to-school situations around here,” said Family Success Center Director Marie Johnson. “They had been doing a Cram the Van program somewhere in Florida, and it was a good deal.”
Cram the Van has been held for about 10 years, but this year was held earlier than it has been in the past. The event has typically coincided with the tax free weekend, which was changed this year from the first weekend in August to the third weekend of July. Johnson thinks the change helped more parents and guardians utilize the tax holiday.
“Everybody already has to have their stuff at school by the time we have that first weekend in August,” said Johnson. “All the kids have already had to buy their stuff. They backed the date up. I think it helped everybody out some.”
Johnson said that as a result of the tax holiday change there were more shoppers out buying school supplies, so the Cram the Van event got a slightly bigger response this year.
“We normally give out anywhere between $8,000 and $10,000 worth of supplies, if you go by the retail value of it,” said Johnson.
The supplies will go to 11 local elementary schools, including Attalla Elementary, C. A. Donahoo Elementary, Duck Springs Elementary, George W. Floyd Elementary, Highland Elementary, Ivalee Elementary, Oscar Adams Elementary, Ray Thompson Elementary, W.E. Striplin Elementary, Walnut Park Elementary and West End Elementary.
“Elementary is our focus because we want the early kids to really learn well and have what they need in order to learn,” said Johnson.
The schools will pick up the school supplies, and the principal will distribute the items as needed.
“The principals know who has a true need,” said Johnson. “So they are the ones who disperse our school supplies.”
For more information or to support Family Success center’s school supply distribution, call Marie Johnson at 256-547-6888.
Several other organizations are offering school supplies to the public.
On Saturday, July 29, the H.O.P.E. Celebration will be held at the Boys and Girls Club from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Registration begins at 9 a.m. The celebration will offer information about community resources, along with bounce houses, entertainment, activities and refreshments so the whole family can enjoy themselves. The first 150 students will receive a backpack with school supplies. For more information, call Wendy Jones at 256-439-6362.
On July 29, “A Joyous Back to School Community Day” will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Rising Star A.O.H. Church of God, located at 1101 Tuscaloosa Ave. in Gadsden. The A.O.H. Church of God District 2 Youth Ministry will host the event. The event is open to the community and will offer free food, school supplies and clothes, as supplies last.
On July 29, Union No. 3 Baptist Church, located at 8765 Centre Road in Gadsden, will host Hands of Hope from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The event will offer a free meal, children’s fingerprinting, haircuts, school supplies and more.
On July 30, New Canaan Baptist Church, located at 1201 Stroud Ave. in Gadsden, will host a Back to School Rally from 4 to 8 p.m. The event will offer free food and lots of entertainment, including games, a car show, gospel groups and dance groups. The first 100 students will receive free backpacks.
On August 2, the First United Methodist Church of Gadsden, located at 115 South 5th Street, will host a Good Hair Day from 3 to 6 p.m. The event offers free basic haircuts for students.
The Good Sense Prevails Mission Center, located at 1423 East Broad Street in Gadsden, will be distributing backpacks with school supplies on August 3 at 5 p.m. and August 4-7 from 1 to 5 p.m. as supplies last.