Community steps up to help metro kids with supplies before safely returning to school


INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — As schools prepare for a safe return, outfitting kids with needed school supplies looks a little different this year. The community is stepping up to make sure kids have what they need for a safe and successful school year.

Stacks of backpacks, boxes stuffed with notebooks, glue bottles, pencils and more line tables at Country Meadows Baptist Church in Independence. The free school supplies will be given out over the next few days.

“That’s who we ought to be as a church is building those relationships, connecting with our community so we can just add value to our community and be a blessing to those are around us,” said Ashely Olinger, Country Meadows Baptist Church senior pastor.

Normally the school supply giveaway happens on one very busy Saturday. But this year, during the pandemic, it’s by appointment only. The need this year, is bigger and more emotional than ever as parents experience job loss and can’t afford what their kids need for school.

“We’ve had quite a few even when they called to step up an appointment, they would break down in tears just as the secretary was filling out their form. It means a lot,” Olinger said.

Just north in Excelsior Springs, a group of seamstresses have never been busier. In the past few months, Alterations & Custom Sewing has made more than 30,000 face masks.

“Before any of this happened, had you ever sewed a single face mask for any reason?” FOX4 asked.

“No! Never! It’s the biggest thing we’d ever done,” said Cindy Weir, owner of Alterations & Custom Sewing.

Weir was able to stay open during stay home orders because her shop helps outfit police officers with uniforms. But she saw 95-percent of her business disappear overnight in a season that’s normally slammed with wedding and prom business.

“I thought I was going to be laying all my staff off, and then got a phone call from a customer who wanted face masks,” she said.

Cindy’s first big call ended up being an order from a large company needing 2,000 masks. She listed her business on the website and was selling 300 to 400 a day. Then in May, her biggest request ever came from North Kansas City Schools.

“He called me, and I’m like, ‘Yeah right! 25,000 masks?'” Weir said.

It took eight weeks with very long working hours, but Cindy and her staff completed the project, and now students and staff at North Kansas City Schools will all be protected this fall.

“To get this virus under control, we’ve got to do something. And it just gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling to know you’re helping the community,” said Weir.

Country Meadows Church in Independence has booked all 150 appointment slots for school supplies, but has enough for 600 kids. So if you need help, you can still call and arrange for pick-up, by dialing (816) 373-6445.

If you’d like to help donate supplies, Heart N Hand Ministries is hosting a school supply drive-thru collection Saturday, August 1 from 9 a.m. until noon at 200 B Street.

Supplies needed include: backpacks, highlighters, colored pencils, school boxes, glue sticks, dry erase markers, washable markers, loose leaf paper, spiral notebooks, black/blue pens, scissors, pencil pouches, pocket folders, #2 pencils, erasers, crayons, tissues, and glue.

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