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From the mouths of babes

Published 9:33pm Thursday, July 25, 2013

The signs are already appearing, and soon they will be impossible to ignore. Television commercials are touting the latest in back-to-school fashions. Stores are posting lists of supplies that will be needed by students at area schools. A tax-free weekend for school supplies and clothing is set for Aug. 2-4.

Like it or not — and where one falls on that scale probably has much to do with one’s age — school will be back in session for every Suffolk student in a little more than a month. There is much to be done in preparation, and completing those preparatory tasks often helps to get students excited for the first day of school, despite the fact that it represents an end to the relative freedom of summer.

For many students, the act of shopping for new notebooks, pens, pencils, backpacks, calculators and clothing represents an opportunity to personalize the experience, a chance to allow their unique interests to be reflected through their choice of purchases.

But there are some students in Suffolk whose families’ economic situations keep them from enjoying the experience of picking through notebooks for just the right cover or finding the backpack that combines personal style and utility in just the right proportions. For some Suffolk students, the question isn’t which backpack so much as whether they’ll get one at all.

Participants in the vacation Bible school program at Oakland Christian Church sought to help some of those needy students with a mission outreach project recently, collecting 15 bags full of donated school supplies to donate to Oakland Elementary School. It was one of several outreach activities in which 53 Oakland Christian participants were engaged during the weeklong Bible school. Though it might seem a simple sort of intervention, it will make a big difference for some Oakland students.

More than 40 percent of Oakland Elementary School’s students live below the poverty line, so just showing up at school with the necessary materials to start the year can be a challenge for many of those attending the school. Without those basic necessities, those students will start a new school year at a distinct disadvantage.

Twelve-year-old Emma Shearin, a student at Windsor Middle School, summed up the effort in simple, yet telling, terms: “People need stuff. Somebody’s got to give it to them if they don’t have enough money or their parents don’t have a job.”

As the old saying goes: Out of the mouths of babes oft times come gems.

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