NORTH ROYALTON – Everyone knows North Royalton cares, and without a doubt, students will witness this firsthand over the coming weeks.

Beginning July 14, residents can drop off specific, basic school supplies at various locations around town though Aug. 4.

It’s called Operation North Royalton Cares and it is a collaboration among the city’s Office on Aging, the North Royalton City School District and the North Royalton Family YMCA.

It’s common knowledge that North Royalton is a generous, helpful community, but what many may not realize is the need for assistance still exists.

“The need is still there, even though there’s been baby steps in the economy. We are still seeing the need to provide this service. Some families are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet. This program is still one of the biggest priorities and why we continue to do this,” said Debra Burrows, outreach specialist for the office on aging. “We assisted over 75 children last year, if that doesn’t speak volumes in itself.”

A kick-off event is planned for 5:30-6:30 p.m. July 14 at The 3 Spot, 13855 Ridge Road. The entire community is invited to come enjoy a sampling of light appetizers served on the house. The only request is that everyone who attends bring at least one school supply donation for kids in need.

Items in high demand this year include backpacks, wide-ruled notebooks and paper (not college-ruled), dry-erase markers and erasers, red pens, USB flash drives, TI-100 calculators and gift cards in any amount to stores like Target, Walmart, Giant Eagle, CVS, Drug Mart, Office Max, Staples, Rite Aid etc. The suggested donation amount for gift cards is $10.

The full list of items in need include backpacks, folders with and without pockets, pencils, pencil boxes, markers, glue and glue sticks, highlighters, headphones (no earbuds), USB flash drives, black and blue pens, red pens, rulers, protractors, colored pencils, tissue boxes, wide-ruled notebooks and paper, crayons, scissors, index cards, three-ring binders, washable markers, Sharpie markers, dry-erase markers and erasers, the TI-100 calculators and hand sanitizer.

School supply donations can be dropped off throughout the program’s open donation period in designated purple and gold boxes at the North Royalton Library, located at 5071 Wallings Road; the North Royalton Family YMCA located at 11409 State Road; and the office, on aging, located at 13500 Ridge Road.

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 should be dropped off at the office on aging during that same time frame.

To qualify, North Royalton residents must meet the 2014 income guidelines. According to these guidelines, a three-person household must make $39,060 or less and a four-person household $47,100 or less. For each additional person, add $8,040.

Proof of North Royalton residency is required, a current utility bill suffices. Some type of photo identification is also needed, as is proof of the household income. The office on aging will also ask for the students’ school and grade level because supplies are packed accordingly.

Applications will be accepted beginning July 14 and must be received before Aug. 4. School starts Aug. 20.

North Royalton Cares goes hand in hand with the Christmas in July event hosted July 12. That event purposes to raise dollars for the city’s local branch of the Salvation Army. Proceeds from that event are used to provide clothing vouchers for the Strongsville Salvation Army store to the North Royalton children who will be receiving school supplies as part of Operation NR Cares.

The gift cards being requested as part of NR Cares are especially useful in outfitting these youngsters with a brand new pair of shoes and making up for any supply shortages.

Requests for clothing vouchers have increased, said Judy Willey, director of North Royalton’s Office on Aging.

“And, the money to do that comes from the Christmas in July event. These two programs run simultaneously, with one really helping the other,” she said. “It’s helpful, and we’ve heard back from kids that come in with their parents and how excited the little ones are about the backpacks. And teenagers, it’s helped them get a good start as far as their high school education and having the things other kids have, and many of these kids we’ve helped, we’ve seen go on to college, so it’s very rewarding.”

Residents’ assistance in making sure these kids have the supplies and clothes they need to start school off on the right foot, means everything to those involved.

Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw helped develop the program when he served on the school board.

“Any donation residents can give is extremely appreciated and is a perfect way to help our own in need,” he said. “This program has proven to live up to its name. North Royalton cares a lot about helping families in need in our community. It is truly inspiring and goes to show why North Royalton is such a great place to live.”

Burrows agrees. She’s hoping residents think back to the excitement they once had surrounding their own first day of school and that it inspires them to act.

“Remember back to your childhood and what was most important – what you were wearing on that first day of school and showing off those new shoes,” she said. “We want that for these kids too.”

For more information, contact the North Royalton Office on Aging at 440-582-6333 and ask for Willey or Burrows.

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