On Wednesday, dozens of families attended the Supplies for Scholars mobile event at Woodward Elementary in Delaware, the site where the event began nine years ago.
The Supplies for Scholars event was started by the United Way of Delaware County in 2013 at Woodward to help distribute backpacks and school supplies to local students. Since then, the event has happened annually and has served more than 12,000 students, the organization reported.
The primary event was held last week at Willis Education Center and served close to 1,000 students, said United Way of Delaware County Vice President Gina Grote. She added a number of mobile events were added to the event this year, including stops in Ashley, Sunbury, Olentangy and Woodward.
“During COVID, we learned to bring the supplies and we looked at different ways of adapting and distributing,” Grote said. “We found that the mobile distributions made a lot of sense and were helpful to people with transportation issues. (We thought), ‘Why not Woodward?’ We’re doing summer lunch here already, why not make it convenient for them to enjoy summer lunch and come through and get their supplies.”
During the event, attendees selected a backpack and filled it with supplies like headphones, folders, paper and writing utensils. During the event, volunteers assisted the students by helping them pick out or carry their supplies.
“The sponsors and volunteers have been phenomenal,” Grote said. “You can see the excitement seeing all these kids getting their supplies. We had about 150 signed up, but we brought enough for 300.”
Grote said the United Way expects to have served 2,000 students through Supplies for Scholars this year. She added the organization keeps the extra supplies and distributes them to those in need throughout the year.
Grote said she’s happy to help kids get excited for the start of the school year.
“I love seeing the families, and I love when a small child comes in super excited and they fill their book bag,” Grote said. “They’re so excited for school, and I want them to maintain that excitement about learning. It’s fun to work with the families.”
United Way of Delaware County President Brandon Feller said bringing the mobile event to Woodward was going back to the event’s roots and showed how far the event has come.
“It’s amazing to see how the event has grown,” he said. “To be able to come back to Woodward where we got started is amazing. … When we started, we didn’t know how big this event was going to be. We just knew there was a need. This has been bigger than we expected. We’re thrilled to be able to serve the entire county. This has become a signature event for us. It’s something our volunteers, sponsors, and the kids look forward to. We’re trying to make a fun event that allows kids to look forward to going back to school.”
Woodward Principal Eric Barr said he was excited to take part in the event, which hasn’t been held at the school during his time with the district.
“I think this has been a great idea, and it really helps a lot of the families,” Barr said. “It gets them the supplies they need to start the school year on a successful note. I like having this at Woodward. This event allows people in our neighborhood to walk over and get what they need. It’s a lot of fun to see the kids and the excitement on their faces.”