NORTH ROYALTON – School supplies for kids in need flooded the Operation North Royalton Cares kick-off Monday, proving yet again that the community takes care of its own.

The event, hosted from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., July 15, at The 3 Spot, located at 13855 Ridge Road, brought in two, large boxes of supplies and three stuffed backpacks.

Residents dropped by at their leisure with a few supplies in tow and received some free grub for their generous gesture. Others simply dropped off their items and left.

Judy Willey, director of the city’s Office on Aging, said she was very impressed with the program’s jump start.

“A couple brought in almost $130 worth of school supplies. We’ve had more donations than we had last year. We had a big box then, but this year, we have a box that is overflowing. What we’re hoping is that we get a big response from the community at Christmas in July,” Willey said.

Christmas in July, hosted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 20, works hand-in-hand with North Royalton Cares. Where North Royalton Cares provides school supplies for kids in need, Christmas in July provides vouchers that these kids can use for back-to-school clothes at the Salvation Army store in Strongsville.

This year, gift cards are of particular need, so students are able to purchase new shoes for school at places like Walmart, Target, Kohl’s or Payless.

The goal of both events is to lend support to parents struggling to make ends meet by giving their children supplies and clothing to start the school year off right, so they don’t feel embarrassed or at a disadvantage.

Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw started North Royalton Cares in 2010 when he was a school board member.

He, too, was impressed with the jump start this time around.

“We are off to a great start already. We have several boxes full of supplies. It’s a great beginning. We have more involvement this year from not only the schools, St. Albert and the city, but also the YMCA,” he said. “It’s great to see it off to a great start.”

Last year’s events helped 93 students, kids from not only the North Royalton City School District but also St. Albert the Great School.

Greg Gurka, the new North Royalton superintendent, said the program is a neat thing to witness and that the community’s and the Office on Aging’s efforts do not go unnoticed.

“We appreciate all the work that they do for our students. They help out and make sure our students have all the supplies they need to be successful,” he said.

Mary Pat Frey, pastoral associate at St. Albert, said the kids and parents are beyond grateful for the support.

“Last year, close to 35 young parishioners were recipients. The families are so grateful and couldn’t say enough about the program. They have already asked if it’s possible to receive help again this year. That’s why I’m here,” Frey said. “We’re grateful.”

Requested supply donations include backpacks, folders, pencils, markers, glue/glue sticks, highlighters, headphones (no earbuds), USB flash drives, wide-ruled paper, pens, rulers, protractors, colored pencils, tissue boxes, wide-ruled notebooks, crayons, scissors, calculators, index cards, three-ring binders, red pens, Sharpie markers and hand sanitizers.

Gift cards, aside from those for shoes, are also great for supplies because if there’s a specific item or request a student or family needs, Willey and her staff can shop for exactly what is needed. Gift cards of $10 or more for stores like Office Max, Staples, Walmart, Target, Giant Eagle, CVS, Drug Mart, Rite Aid, etc. are greatly appreciated.

School supply donations can be dropped off through Aug. 2 at The 3 Spot; St. Albert the Great Church rectory, located at 6667 Wallings Road; the board of education office, located at 6579 Royalton Road; the North Royalton Family YMCA, located at 11409 State Road; and the Office on Aging, located at 13500 Ridge.

Those who wish to donate monetarily can make checks payable to the Charitable Fund of North Royalton Kiwanis. The words “school supplies” should be written in the memo section of the check. Gift cards and monetary donations can be dropped off at the Office on Aging and the Board of Education office during that same time frame.

North Royalton families in need of school supplies for their children this year can contact the Office on Aging to sign up for the program beginning July 22 through Aug. 2. To qualify, families must meet certain income and residential guidelines.

Don and Pat Harris, who help coordinate the North Royalton Food Bank on behalf of the Kiwanis, said they’ve felt and seen the city’s giving spirit up close and personal numerous times.

“Every year this grows. Being associated with the food bank, we see how generous the people are there, and you see how the people are generous for this too,” he said. “The community does take care of its own.”

Willey said the biggest reward for her and Debra Burrows, outreach specialist for the Office on Aging, is seeing these students go on to be successful.

“One of the nice things is that the students that have been helped through this and the food bank Debbie and I see graduate and go on to college or vocational school,” she said. “We see how this helps them and makes a difference.”

For more information, contact Judy Willey or Debra Burrows at 440-582-6333, or contact Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw at 440-785-4240.

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