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Schools offer prepackaged supplies
Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy kindergarten teacher Mary Ann Hudson looks through some of the contents of a prepackaged box of supplies sold by the school’s PTA. - photo by Tom Reed

Some local schools are making the transition from summer to fall a little easier for families by giving them the option of ordering school supplies so they are ready for kids when they start school this week.

"It’s exactly what they need," said Stefanie Long, a parent volunteer at Mount Vernon Elementary School. "You don’t have to go to five or six stores."

Some area schools, such as Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, Mount Vernon Elementary School and Lula Elementary School, order the prepackaged school supplies through a national company called The School Toolbox. Before the school year ends, teachers create their list of supplies for the next year and send it to The School Toolbox. The school then sends order forms to parents, allowing them to order their kids’ school supplies early, Long said.

Kids who ordered ahead of time will have a box with all of their school supplies in their classroom at open house, Enota PTA President Cindy Edwards said.

"It’s a no-brainer for parents," Edwards said. "They don’t have to go through the rush and the chaos."

Some area office supply and grocery stores are inundated with kids and parents looking for the right notebooks, rulers and calculators come July and August.

"I had to go to Wal-Mart, and the school supply aisles were just packed," Edwards said.

Lula Parent Teacher Organization President Jennifer Bagwell said about 25 percent of Lula Elementary School families pre-
order their school supplies. She said it saves Lula parents not only time, but money.

Because there are no office supply stores in Lula, people have to drive to neighboring towns to buy their school supplies, which is expensive when you account for high gas prices, Bagwell said.

Though schools often need orders by May to have supplies for the following school year, it is not too late for parents who want to get in on the convenience of prepackaged school supplies.

Office Pro’s, located on Browns Bridge Road, will package supplies for individual customers or schools through the beginning of school.

Office Pro’s co-owner Marsha Jones said because they are a local company, parents don’t have to pre-order supplies so far in advance for them to be ready by the next school year.

Jones said parents can fax or e-mail their child’s school list, and someone at Office Pro’s will gather all the items for no additional cost. They also can come in and wait while a staff member packages their supplies.

"We’re just a mom and pop store, and we cater more to the individual," Jones said.

Long said about 350, or a little less than half, of the students at Mount Vernon opt to order their supplies early.

This is the second year Enota parents had the option to pre-
order supplies. Edwards said last year they received about 40 orders, but as the word spreads, they expect orders to grow.

"This year we’ve more than doubled the orders from last year," Edwards said.

Some schools take advantage of the prepackaged supplies as a fundraiser, while others simply offer it as a convenience.

"We use it as a small fundraiser," Edwards said. "But it’s mostly about convenience and service to the parents and the kids."

Jones said Office Pro’s has also worked with several schools in Hall and the surrounding counties to help parent teacher organizations put on fundraisers through prepackaged school supplies.

Though the option of ordering a personalized package of school supplies has been available for a few years, many still don’t take it.

Long speculated that it could be because many kids look forward to the experience of shopping every year.

"I think a lot of people love going school supply shopping," Long said. "It’s fun."

Jones thinks many parents simply are not aware that the option is out there, but would take advantage of it if they knew they could have someone else do their back-to-school shopping for them.

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