School Supply Train offers clothes, haircuts, more to Longview-area children

School Supply Train offers clothes, haircuts, more to Longview-area children

By Meredith Shamburger
Aug. 5, 2017 at 11:48 p.m.
Updated Aug. 6, 2017 at 2:08 p.m.

Volunteers pass out backpacks full of school supplies for children Saturday, August 5, 2017, at the Junior League of Longview's annual School Supply Train event. (Les Hassell/News-Journal Photo)

The children who picked up backpacks and school supplies Saturday at First Baptist Church’s ROC Center didn’t just receive items that will help prepare them academically — they also picked up uniforms and shoes, got their vision and teeth checked and got snazzy new haircuts.

“I remember when we were kids: First day of school you wanted to have your hair cut, looking good; you wanted brand new shoes; you wanted to look sharp,” ROC Director Sean Goram-Welch said. “So every kid here, they’re going to get that. That first day of school, they’re going to go in feeling 10-feet tall and bulletproof.”

Thousands of families picked up school supplies Saturday at the Junior League of Longview’s 24th annual School Supply Train. The annual event helps defray the cost of supplies for families who meet free or reduced-lunch guidelines and live in the Longview area.

Each student received a backpack full of grade-appropriate supplies, a pair of shoes and a uniform. They also could see a dentist and optometrist, all without leaving the ROC center.

The Junior League and Buckner pre-registered 1,000 children about two weeks earlier, and an additional 1,500 backpacks were given to families who showed up Saturday.

Lots of volunteers helped each family get in and out quickly — school supplies, shoes and uniforms in tow.

Stephanie Tate, with the Junior League, said the school supply essentials can end up costing between $50 and $75, so taking that financial burden off parents is a big help.

“It’s great because some families have … five kids, and if you multiply that times five, that’s a lot,” she said.

Longview mom Vanna Powers was picking up supplies for her two children.

Powers said Saturday’s event helped her save money, though “it depends on what kind (of supplies) they need.”

Janay Talbot, a Longview mother picking up supplies for four students, agreed that the annual School Supply Train helps defray a lot of the costs.

“It’s not all of them, but it’s a good start,” she said.

The giveaways started at 8 a.m., but Tate said some people started to line up hours earlier. Like every year, Tate said the event was expected to run out of backpacks before the day was over.

She said that shows the impact the event has on the community and how it helps meet a need.

“People in the community, this is such a good way that we can have kids start their school year off prepared so they can have a successful school year,” she said. “The kids’ faces, like their smiles are so stinking cute when they come and they get that backpack or those new pair of shoes or that free haircut. It’s a great resource just to help the families in East Texas.”

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