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Where happiness was in full supply PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOHN MORTON   
Wednesday, 30 August 2017 18:20

Saukville’s annual back-to-school supply distribution brought smiles to organizers, parents and students alike

School had yet to begin, but the scene outside St. Peter’s United Church of Christ on West Dekora Street last Friday had the look and feel of little ones at their first recess of the year.
Parents studied their lists of needs while kids raced about and reconnected with one another, all awaiting entry into the church. It is home to the annual school-supply drive’s distribution event, organized by the Saukville Food Pantry, and this year’s effort certainly delivered the goods.
“When you’re a mother of four, things can get really expensive. I can’t tell you how much this helps the pocket book,” said Kim Schneider, a Belgium resident who attended the giveaway for the second straight year and whose kids are 6, 8, 11 and 13. “Last year we got a lot and I was surprised. It’s pretty awesome how I can check so many things off my list, especially the backpacks. They have such a nice variety here.”
Schneider thumbed through her four lists, each about 25 items long.
“I figure the things we need average about $2 each, so when I add it all up we’re talking as much as $200 for me.
“And it’s great to send my kids back to school feeling good about themselves. It’s nice to have new stuff now and then.”
The drive is intended to provide supplies to families who encounter a financial burden in meeting back-to-school needs.
Knowing the importance of making kids feel accepted and confident is part of what made Katie Draeger, the food pantry’s president of its board of directors, beam with pride as she watched them make their selections.
“This is our favorite event of the year,” she said. “We get to see the kids come out, ready for school, and help them get outfitted for that important first day. We know that supply lists grow longer and longer each year.
“We feel so good watching them feel so good.”
Draeger said the event draws about 200 students on average, and Friday’s turnout was close to hitting that number.
The items, which are brand new, arrive via purchase by the pantry or through donations.
“This year, we had a local family that pledged $500 if other families could pitch in and combine to at least reach that same amount,” Draeger said. “Well, it happened and then some, so we ended up with $1,150 we weren’t expecting. That covered the cost of the school supplies and it was the first year we didn’t have to dip into the food pantry budget to do that.”
Donations also packed a punch, as drop-off sites resulted in four 30-gallon barrels of supplies collected. The drop-off locations were at the church, the Oscar Grady Public Library, Schmit Bros. Auto, and John’s Pizzaria in Grafton.
The Shopko Foundation, Port Washington State Bank and Schmit Bros. also contributed funds.
The supplies ranged from the basics like paper and pencils to the high-profile items such as backpacks and shoes — those two bigger items bringing smiles and lots of chatter as students compared their new acquisitions.
“Seeing their reaction to picking out the backpacks and shoes is the best part,” Draeger said. “We know how much they mean to them.”

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