By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
The annual Tools for Schools event hosted by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cooke County will kick off the new school year with free school supplies and some school uniforms handed out from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Aug. 20 at the facility located at 315 W. Hird in Gainesville.
Local community member Herkey Biffle and his crew of volunteers will provide hamburgers and hot dogs for the back to school party.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Cooke County Chief professional officer Tricia West said school supplies and school uniforms will be given out while supplies last. Parents must line up with their kids to qualify for these items at the event.
“We want our kids to be successful so they need to look successful,” she said.
She said that similar to the angel tree at Christmas, Walmart will have an apple tree in which each student will write their name, clothing sizes and school supply needs on the back of a red paper apple that will hang on the tree. Community members who are able to donate items, can choose a child and purchase items from the custom list filled out for each child.
All donations can be dropped off at the boys and girls club’s Hird Street location before the Aug. 20 event.
Each year, many local companies and residents participate in the apple tree in order to provide children with the tools they need to start the school year off right.
Many companies have already signed up to assist with the program but West noted more help is needed as the number of kids who require assistance grows each year.
Last year, the event raised over $7,200 in back to school amenities for the kids and West hopes to top that number this year.
“For many years through the generosity of our community, we have been able to provide for those who would otherwise not be equipped to do their best in school,” West continued. “The kids are so excited to receive their new school supplies. For many of them, this is the only time they get anything new.”
“Besides the basic school supplies, the children need self esteem, creativity and confidence. They need adult guidance and enriching experiences in their out-of-school time. This is what the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cooke County gives them.”
Some of the activities the organization offers youngsters are the Bring Up Grades (BUG) program, one-on-one tutoring, help to get homework done on time, play time, gym time, computer lab instruction and some meals.
Extracurricular activities include sign-ups for football and other after school programs. Families can sign children up for these activities at the back to school event.
A new boys and girls clubs facility is set to open at 300 N. Denton. West said that more children live within one mile of the new facility and will be able to participate in the programs offered. A completion date for the new facility has not been determined.
“At this facility we have 640 kids in walking distance,” West said. “At the new facility, 1,170 kids will be in walking distance so we will be able to serve more. We are excited about the new possibilities that will be available there.”
West has seen many children pass through the doors of the club during her 25-year tenure with the agency. First coming on board in 1988 she said she feels blessed to work with an organization where kids have a safe place to play and just be kids.
The boys and girls clubs is a United Way Agency and has been serving the Gainesville community since 1959.
By CATHY MOUNCE
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