Project SOS, July 11, 2019

Project SOS community contributors take at group photo at The Daily Sentinel. Pictured are contributors: Lorelai Gotcher, Nacogdoches Junior Forum; Emily Tieman, KSPW/KAVK radio; Maria Raley, Family Crisis Center of East Texas; Brittany and Reace Rustin, Nacogdoches Junior Forum; Karen Swenson and Stephanie Skinner, Greater East Texas Community Action Program; Stacy Jacob, Commercial Bank of Texas and Maria Sutterfield, Nacogdoches Junior Forum.

As the summer days start getting shorter and shorter and the calendar days are checked off, work is already underway to prepare for the coming school year.

2019 marks the 27th year for Project Supply Our Schools to gather the items students will need in their classrooms soon, and this year’s campaign comes with at least one notable change to the long-running initiative.

Project SOS will accept monetary donations through a website, ideally expanding the program’s ability to provided much needed supplies to school districts throughout the county.

The program is administered by the Greater East Texas Community Action Program and is supported by businesses and civic organizations in the county. All the money raised is used to purchase supplies, which are then delivered to campus administrators who divvy them up throughout their respective districts.

The supplies are delivered to local districts by members of Junior Forum, a civic service organization of high school students, during meet the teacher events.

“Local school contacts in every school in Nacogdoches County anticipate great need by students. This effort works countywide with local school campuses to reach all needy students,” said Karen Swenson, one of the event’s founders and organizers. It is an unfortunate fact that many families cannot purchase the supplies needed for their children. Especially for those with more than one child, the cost is significant.”

Last year, the fundraising efforts of the campaign generated more than $16,000 for the program and donations of actual supplies surpassed what was received in past years, Swenson said.

The campaign wraps up each year with the Fill the Bus drive, in which county residents are asked to donate school supplies to the program. This year, the Fill the Bus Drive is set for Friday, Aug. 9.

“We hope for a successful drive, but it all depends on donations both monetary and of specific items,” said Stephanie Skinner, co-chair of the Greater East Texas Community Action Program. “Buying in bulk really maximizes dollars.”

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