Summer is winding down, and the frenzied days of shopping and planning for a new school aren’t far behind.
To minimize the hassle for families in Hall County, particularly those who may be facing doing without a few classroom essentials in order to make ends meet, the Flowery Branch Police Department has handled some of the back-to-school shopping.
Building on a roughly 10-year-old tradition, the department has consulted local schools’ classroom supplies lists and secured the essentials to ensure every student is prepared when the bell rings this fall.
Officers will be distributing these items at no cost to families at the Flowery Branch Back-to-School Block Party, slated for 6:30-10 p.m. in the city’s downtown.
By Deputy Chief Todd Templeton’s estimation, the department is poised to distribute school supplies “in the hundreds.”
While in previous years the department gathered and dropped off the items at the schools, this year, it opted for a more personalized approach.
“We are constantly trying to improve on our community policing efforts and be as involved with the community as possible,” Templeton said. “For us, it’s a highlight if one of our officers is able to know that they’ve made a difference in the community. If they’ve had a positive interaction with the children in the community, that helps set a precedence for future interactions. It also helps them know that the police are the good guys and establish that early on.”
According to Templeton, the supplies cover all the bases, from paper, pencils and markers to folders, backpacks and headphones.
While the event does take place there, having a Flowery Branch address isn’t an eligibility requirement.
“This is a community event, so they shouldn’t worry about whether or not they reside in the city as far as that goes,” Templeton said. “It’s not about that. It’s about providing needed supplies to these children who may be in need, or these families that may be having a difficult time, and just trying to make it a little easier on them as they deal with the back-to-school process.”
Templeton noted area businesses played a role in the police department amassing these items, with donations from Home Run Nutrition and Target in Flowery Branch and Sam’s Club in Oakwood.
“The community’s come together to enable this and make it happen for us,” Templeton said.