The sun and heat Friday didn’t keep coordinators of family resource centers from area schools and officers of different law enforcement agencies from collecting more than $2,600 in school supplies for children getting ready to head back to the classroom in August.
The second annual “Cram the Cruiser” drive in Barren County was deemed even more successful than last year’s event by organizers.
“The support by the community was overwhelming today. Even though the temperatures were over the 90-degree mark, people continued to bring supplies to our locations,” said Trooper Jonathan Biven from Kentucky State Police Post 3 in Bowling Green.
Glasgow, Barren County and Caverna school family resource and youth service centers, along with the Kentucky State Police, the Glasgow Police Department, the Barren County Sheriff’s Office and the Cave City Police Department, were set up at local businesses Friday to take donations from the public for much-needed classroom supplies.
Biven was at the Dollar General Store on Shane Drive in Glasgow from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. while collections were being taken. He and fellow trooper, Ronnie Reynolds, had the additional draw for the public with KSP’s first police car, a 1949 Ford.
Tammy Lindsey, South Green Elementary’s family resource center coordinator, was working with the troopers at the Dollar General location accepting any type of donation that customers had.
“We’re taking money donations, any kind of supply donation, and what we’re doing is we’re taking the money and purchasing more supplies with it. Anything (the public) can do to help us, we appreciate it,” she said.
Even her husband, Eddie Lindsey, a Glasgow Police detective, was helping out by picking up supplies at each Glasgow location and transporting them to Highland Elementary.
GPD Officer Howard Garrison, along with Tammy Jolly, Eastern Elementary, and Stephanie Ferguson, Austin Tracy Elementary, were stationed at Kmart in Highland Commons shopping center to receive donations from shoppers.
“I think it’s a better turnout than it was last year,” Garrison said. “I think we advertised a little bit more too.”
According to Jolly, Barren County schools stopped having student supply lists several years ago. The school system decided it was better for the children and their families for the district to provide the supplies.
“Some of the kids could only afford to come in with an eight-count box of crayons and some had the 64 (box), so it kind of equaled things out a little bit,” Jolly said.
With recent budget cuts making it harder for school districts to continue to purchase school supplies, it is even more important that campaigns such as “Cram the Cruiser” help make up the difference.
“We’re going to collect as much as we can. Anything will help,” Jolly said.
The Barren County Sheriff’s Office was at Walmart in Glasgow to take donations and Deputy Buddy Houchens said, in spite of the heat, the turnout had been good.
“They’ve come by twice already and taken things out of the van and taken it to school,” he said midway through the collection period.
A Walmart customer from LaRue County, Andra Wells, handed a bag of school supplies to Houchens and then commented that she didn’t think officials did anything like “Cram the Cruiser” in her county.
“It’s a really good idea,” she said.
The Dollar General Store in Cave City was the site of collections by the Cave City Police Department and Caverna schools.
Wilma Bunnell, the new family resources director for Caverna, said turnout went very well and they collected lots of supplies.
After 5 p.m. Friday, everyone converged on Highland Elementary where the supplies were sorted, counted and divided up between all the different schools of the three school districts.
Becky Honeycutt, the family resource center coordinator for Highland, thanked community members for their support in making the school supply drive a success.
“The donations are huge and this community – I just want to thank them. ... They have just really come out and just done a tremendous job,” she said. “Many of our students don’t come to school with their school supplies the very first day and being able to just give them that puts a smile on their faces.”
Families with more than one school-age child face an additional financial burden, according to Honeycutt.
“Most parents have more than one child. They have two and three children and we try to make our school list where it does not reach over $10, but if you’ve got more than two children, that’s $20 or $30 just in school supplies. That’s not including the shoes and the clothes that they have to have,” she said.
Honeycutt also talked about the issue of district funding cuts and how it affects the ability of school to provide supplies to students.
“This year we have had a huge budget cut, in fact we had another budget cut last month, so (getting all these supplies) is just overwhelming. We just really appreciate it,” she said.
As great as the community’s response has been now at the beginning of school, Honeycutt said the need for supplies continues throughout the school year.
“We try to hold out crayons and give them again in January because especially our kindergartners and first-graders, they’re worn out by January,” she said.
Pencils, paper and crayons are always needed and donations of supplies and money are appreciated anytime of the year and can be taken to the family youth services centers at each school.
Biven said he appreciated all the hard work of the family resource coordinators and law enforcement officers who donated their time and efforts to make this year’s drive even better than the previous one.
“All these totals are up over last year. I think it was a huge success. ... Believe it or not I’m already looking forward to next year and making it bigger than what we did this year,” he said.