School supplies and big demand

It's that time again. Time for back-to-school shopping.

This will be the first year in nearly two decades that I don't have to shop for school supplies, but I found myself checking out prices nonetheless and picking up a few things the last time I visited a local discount store.

And it's OK. I don't have to seek out a support group or be rehabilitated.

Folks like me, almost-empty-nesters, can buy school supplies and give them to one of the many groups collecting for needy children this year. Or we can simply send $10 to LexLinc to help defray the cost of one of 6,000 backpacks filled with school supplies for elementary school ­students.

Catherine Warner, youth and children coordinator at LexLinc, said there is a ­serious crunch this year because a major backer pulled out, choosing to put its money in an event with a higher profile.

Couple that disappointment with higher gas and food prices, causing an increase in the number of families that need help, and you have a perfect place for folks like me to get our fix.

LexLinc, a partnership between people and government services that seeks to serve struggling neighborhoods and families, took over the back-to-school push in 2006 and redirected the dispersals to various neighborhoods instead of one central location.

In 2006, nine neighborhoods participated, and 4,000 filled backpacks were given to elementary school students.

In 2007, 13 neighborhoods came on board and 7,000 children benefitted.

This year, 6,000 elementary school kids will get filled backpacks at 16 sites. The ­backpacks will contain 30 items, including ­folders, ­spiral notebooks, glue, ­scissors, pens and pencils, paper, erasers, a ruler, a pencil sharpener, index cards and crayons.

Some of the sites will give out supplies for older students as well, but not all of them.

Those sites have to raise the money or gather the ­supplies on their own.

In many cases, churches have come to the rescue.

In the Woodhill ­neighborhood, members of ­Crossroads Christian Church are gathering supplies from the community, businesses and their congregation for the older students.

Natalie Corso, ­Crossroads' outreach ­minister, said there will be inflatables for the ­children, food, snow cones and other fun events before the supplies are handed out.

Each elementary-age child who ­registers at a site will get a backpack filled with school supplies.

”We just have a heart for the Woodhill community,“ Corso said. ”Positive and exciting things are happening there. People sometimes have a bad feeling about it when you bring up Woodhill, and people there want to turn that around.“

In the Winburn neighborhood, Cathy Sutphen said Russell Cave Church of Christ has donated items for a ”fun field day“ at the church and bingo for parents before ­supplies are handed out.

She, too, is looking for donations for older ­students, and she plans to ask area ­businesses and the ­neighborhood association to pitch in.

”Without the churches, it wouldn't be going off very well,“ she said.

So there are at least two ways to help.

For each elementary-age child you want to help, send $10 to LexLinc, 436 ­Georgetown Street, ­Lexington, Ky. 40508. For the older students, call ­LexLinc's Warner. She can tell you where to take your donations. Her number is (859) 381-1302, Ext. 228.