More than 315 underserved youngsters now are ready for school, with fresh haircuts, new shoes, socks and backpacks filled with school supplies, courtesy of a mammoth community project undertaken by several organizations.
Mercy Church, the Rotary Club of Stuart, the Patrick County Community Coalition and the Patrick County Extension Office pooled their resources for the ‘Back2school’ event that culminated Saturday in the Day of Community Sharing.
Mike McCutchen, president of Stuart Rotary, said individual back to school projects were undertaken by various organizations in years past, but this marked the first year of partnering with the faith-based community.
“All these things happened last year,” McCutchen said, and added that due to the extensive partnership with like-minded organizations, the project could serve a larger number of youth.
In addition, several other agencies joined the effort on Saturday, with representatives from various agencies on hand to make sure families are aware of community resources, McCutchen said.
Johnny Brown, of Mercy Church, said 50 youngsters were scheduled to be served each half-hour of Saturday’s event.
“They will get their feet washed, get their shoes” and have the opportunity to engage in age-appropriate activities while parents/guardians learn about other resources available should the need arise, McCutchen said.
Volunteers from the various organizations held two registration sessions in advance of Saturday’s event, according to Brown.
During the registration process, “every child has to be present with their parent or guardian. We have to measure the child’s feet. We want to make sure the shoes fit,” Brown said.
Patrick County Public Schools reopen to students on Thursday.
A Back to School Night will be held at the Patrick County High School beginning at 6 p.m. Monday. Similar events were held in elementary schools earlier this week.