Back to school drives down to the wire for hundreds of Tri-Cities kids in need

Sue Guinn Legg • Jul 20, 2019 at 6:39 PM

Area schools will soon be back in session and two area ministries are just two weeks away from their annual distributions to help as many of the region’s low-income students as possible get a good start on the new school year.

At Good Samaritan Ministries, where 700 kids in need are registered for back-to-school help, donations to cover the cost of backpacks, school supplies, new shoes and three outfits of new clothing for each child were still $15,000 short last week of the project’s total cost. With the annual Good Samaritan’s back to school distribution picnic coming up Aug. 3, another 160 students were on the ministry’s waiting list for help.

“With only a few weeks left, we are working hard to ensure that more than 700 children in poverty have what they need to start off a good and successful school year,” Good Samaritan Executive Director Aaron Murphy said. “Each child will receive three outfits of clothes, shoes, socks, underclothes and a backpack filled with school supplies.”

“Our children need us. … No child deserves to go without,” Murphy said. “We want to encourage the community to join the movement to combat poverty in the lives of our children and let them know it’s not too late to get involved and show your support.”

For those who wish to help, a sponsorship donation of $19 will provide one student with school supplies, a $35 donation will provide a backpack and supplies for one child and a $150 sponsorship will provide a child with a complete Good Samaritan back-to-school box with new shoes, three outfits, underwear and socks and a backpack with supplies.

Monetary donations earmarked for “back to school” may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org or by mail to Good Samaritan Ministries, P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605.

Good Samaritan is also working to finish off the last of its three monthly summer food distributions that provide 300 families of the same children included its back-to-school drive with canned, fresh and frozen foods, paper products and cleaning supplies to help sustain them during the weeks their kids are without the free and reduced-price meals they receive at school.

Murphy said donations to the Summer Food Program last week were about $10,000 away from the project’s total cost.

Donations to Good Samaritan earmarked for “summer food” may also be made at the ministry’s website or by mail. Donations to help with both the summer food and back to school projects may be dropped off and volunteer spots may be filled at the Good Samaritan building at 100 N. Roan St., Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.

Seasons of Hope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families with children who may not qualify for other charitable programs but still need a little help, is just under halfway to its goal in its drive for back-to-school sponsors for 50 teens and children.

With Season of Hope’s back to school distribution party set for Friday, July 26, there are 30 young students on a waiting list for help and less than one week to get their needs covered.

Seasons of Hope Director Katy Keen said the goal is to provide a new backpack, school supplies, new shoes and underwear and gift cards for back-to-school clothing “for as many as we can.”

The Mall at Johnson City is in on Seasons of Hope’s Operation School Bus drive and will be collecting donations through the mall’s back-to-school party planned for Saturday, July 27. Donations for the drive may be placed in an Operation School Bus bin located outside the Forever 21 shop in the JC Penney court on the mall’s upper level.

Keen said donations made at Saturday’s back-to-school party at the mall will go to teens and children on the Seasons of Hope waiting list.

Donation for the Seasons of Hope drive may also be dropped off at the Summit Leadership Foundation office at 3104 Hanover Road, or Rose Hill Weddings at 223 E. Market St.. The most requested gifts cards are for Gabe’s, Plato's Closet, Owls Nest, Ross, Old Navy, Hollister, Aeropostale, Kohl’s, Academy Sports, Dicks, JC Penney, Hut 8 and Forever 21.

Monetary donations for Seasons of Hope Operation School Bus may be made online at www.roonga.com/osbteen, on PayPal to seasonsofhopetn@gmailcom or by mail to Seasons of Hope, P.O. Box 5633 Johnson City, TN.

For more information or to volunteer at the back-to-school party, contact Keen at seasonsofhopetn@gmail.com or 423-724-7398. More information about Seasons of Hope and its Operation School Bus can is available at www.seasonsofhopetn.org or at the Seasons of Hope Inc. page on Facebook.