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United Way and Publix team up to provide school supplies to students
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School supplies are gathered at the United Way of Hall County for distribution to area students. - photo by For The Times

When students have the tools they need to succeed in school, it can make a huge difference in their grades and academic achievement.

The United Way of Hall County has teamed with Publix Super Markets to bring school supplies to Hall County and Gainesville schools with the School Tools for Cool Kids program.

The drive began in July and will end Sunday.

The supplies are distributed to all 41 schools in the county to be passed out to students in need.

The United Way Young Leaders Society collected the donations and packed them in boxes earlier this week. A total of 82 boxes were distributed in time for the first day of school, which starts today.

“We wanted to make sure our students were prepared and ready for school. We know that they’ll be more successful,” said Joy Griffin, vice president of resource development for United Way of Hall County.

Those wishing to donate can drop off any school supplies they’ve purchased from Publix or another retailer at any of the six Hall County Publix stores or at the United Way building on Oak Street in Gainesville.

All of the grocery stores have a School Tools for Cool Kids display near the front.

The display also has prepackaged supplies for elementary, middle or high school students with prices ranging from $5 to $10. Customers can just add the package to their grocery bill, and Publix will deliver it to the United Way.

“We encourage customers to donate school supplies to help Hall County’s children begin the school year on a level playing field,” Brenda Reid, media and community relations manager for Publix, said in a release.

The donated boxes included general school supplies such as crayons, paper, glue sticks, pencils, pens, notebooks and hand sanitizer. A list of preferred donation items is available at the stores.

Julie Nicholson, a Young Leaders Society member and Serve Committee chairwoman, said the number of donations was slightly less than last year.

“I think we did well with what we have, and with the economy it’s harder to get that kind of stuff donated because people have needs of their own. I think every little bit helps and there may be more as the campaign goes on,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson said the group will continue to hold drives for school supplies throughout the year to make sure students have the tools they need all year long.

Griffin said the entire community has come together to help fund this program. The majority of school supplies has come from Publix customers.

United Way also received a $2,000 grant from Cargill Cares, 100 backpacks from United Hospice and Cotton Eyed Joe’s and a donation of supplies from Citizens of Georgia Power and Rushton and Co.

“It’s all about uniting the community and collaborating with the community and getting everyone what they need, especially the children,” Griffin said.

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