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Groups offer free school supplies for area children
Reveal Church members Mark Ayers, left, and Shea Ferguson tally up school supplies donated while camping Friday afternoon along Spout Springs Road. The church is trying to collect 50 bookbags filled with required school supplies for needy students, and they plan on camping through the weekend to achieve their goal.

New pencils, notebooks and folders are the first things most kids buy with a new school year just around the corner. But for some local kids, just getting the basic school supplies will be out of reach.

To make sure that these kids start the school year right, some local churches and organizations will be holding events this weekend to collect and distribute school supplies to families in need.

Reveal Church will be holding Camp for a Cause: Backpack Edition this weekend. Church staff members began camping out Thursday in the parking lot outside Target in Flowery Branch in conjunction with the sales tax holiday. Church members will be there through Sunday with the goal of collecting 50 backpacks filled with school supplies for needy students at Spout Springs Elementary School.

The church teamed up with Target, which has lists of what supplies are needed and where they can be found in the store. The backpacks, supplied with "all that they need to get back to school this year" will cost between $20 to $25, Pastor Mark Ayers said.

He said the idea of camping out all weekend was inspired by an Atlanta radio station’s "live in it to win it" contest in which participants camp out in a car for a chance to win.

Ayers said church members hope that by camping out in front of the store, they can draw people’s attention to their cause.

"We are serious about making an impact," Ayers said.

Gainesville Action Ministries will also be distributing school supplies from 9 a.m. to noon today. Those in need can go to No. 1 First Street, Chicopee Village, to get supplies until they run out. Gainesville Action Ministries collaborated with United Way, The Hope Program and Joe’s Place to put on the event.

"We’ve done it for our clients for years and years," said Terri Armour, assistant to the director of Gainesville Action Ministries. "But this is the first year we’ve partnered with the United Way, The Hope Program and Joe’s Place."

Armour said most of the school supplies, which were donated by individuals, businesses and organizations, are appropriate for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade.

"And all of the elementary schools, K-5, have some of the same items on every list," she said.

Some organizations are helping out with back-to-school needs beyond just pencils and paper.

For registered participants, the Chattahoochee Baptist Association will be offering everything from backpacks to hair cuts. The 70 churches under the Chattahoochee Baptist Associations collaborated to donate hair cuts, backpacks, and vouchers to buy shoes and socks.

Connie Johnson, an administrative assistant, said schools and state agencies referred people in need to the association, which then gave out about 200 tickets to the event.

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