Back to School Basics continues to help kids

·2 min read

Jul. 30—The Back to School Basics program continues to help provide basic school supplies for children around the area.

"This is the thirty-first year we've been doing this," Suzanne McFarlane said Friday. "It is a service project of Ada Sunrise Rotary Club along with the Salvation Army."

McFarlane indicated they provide a backpack of basic school supplies to about 800 Pontotoc County kids who need it.

"We started out having clients come into to town to pick up the supplies," she said. "But we began to realize they were spending as much money just getting here, and some of them had no transportation. So now, we pack the supplies and then call the school, who come and get it, and they select the students who will receive them."

McFarlane said the supplies are allocated based on lists from each school and each grade. For example, some schools ask for notebook paper, while others prefers spiral notebooks.

"We usually fund Back to School Basics from the Fireball Classic (July 4 race)," she added, "but we've also had some very generous donations from individuals and local civic organizations."

McFarlane said the program started 30 years ago with just $800.

"I am passing the baton this year," McFarlane said, "to Leah Dudley, who is also a Rotarian, and is a professor at East Central University."

"We service several different schools in the area," Dudley said. "We go from pre-k all the way to high school. There's Ada, Latta, Allen, Roff, Stonewall, and Vanoss. This year we're not servicing Byng because a church organization was able to supply them with their needs.

"All of those schools, all of those kids," Dudley continued, "are about 800 students we are servicing with Back to School Basics. There's a lot that goes into behind the scenes that has to happen for this program, and Suzanne has been really instrumental in making that happen."