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Back to school with help

Summer is winding down, and once again, Suffolk is pulling out the stops on its back-to-school efforts.

The weekend featured two different school supplies distributions that demonstrated the community’s commitment to helping students start the new school year with the necessary tools and supplies.

On Saturday, Steve and Pat Watson held their seventh annual back-to-school picnic. The Watsons have become well known for putting school supplies into the backpacks and into the hands of children in their neighborhood, and this year was no different.

From their back yard on Kilby Avenue, they distributed hundreds of dollars worth of school supplies, along with burgers and hot dogs. It’s an effort that is near and dear to the couples’ hearts, since it began as a celebration for their grandchildren. Through the years, though, it has grown, and hundreds of students have been aided by the family in recent years.

Berea Christian Church in Driver put a different spin on the concept on Friday and Saturday, holding a back-to-school “shopping” event for teachers.

Church members, organized by the missions committee, collected more than 2,200 individual items and set up a “store,” where teachers from Driver and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools were invited to visit and choose 40 items apiece to use in their classrooms.

Teachers could choose from three-ring binders, file folders, spiral notebooks, composition notebooks, dividers, sheet protectors, construction paper, loose leaf paper, index cards, printer paper, scissors, pens and pencils, pencil bags and boxes, erasers, colored pencils, crayons, markers, highlighters, glue and glue sticks, tape, rulers, Play-Doh, snack bags, paper and foam plates, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, hand soap, Post-It notes, paper clips and more.

They also received refreshments while they were at the church and had a chance to meet some of the church’s members. The idea was not just to provide school supplies but also to connect with the teachers in order to foster a sense of community between the church and the schools.

These were just two of the many back-to-school drives sponsored by families, churches, neighborhoods, clubs and other organizations this year. Other organizations will be holding similar events before school starts next week.

These efforts are among the many things that make Suffolk so special. We commend the folks who contribute and those who organize the distributions for their civic-mindedness.