In a few weeks, the ringing of school bells will signal the start of a new academic year.

Right now, eager students are purchasing supplies to stuff their backpacks and adjusting to the pinch of new shoes.

But what about those whose households struggle just to pay living expenses? How will they afford the cost of stuffing their backpacks?

These are questions Southwest Emergency Services' Betty Okonski asked years ago. She supplied the answer by organizing the SWES Back-to-School Supply Drive.


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Now entering its 15th year, this project calls upon the generosity of member churches, local civic groups, friends and neighbors to provide backpacks and other classroom necessities when requested by SWES clients in dire straits. Donations are accepted at 1201 Maple Ave., Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. You can also leave supplies at Arbutus United Methodist Church, next door to SWES, weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Call 410-247-8154 or 410-242-9029 with any questions.

Lend a hand

St. Clement Catholic Church's community food pantry needs volunteers to assist with sorting, packaging and distributing items at 2700 Washington Ave., Wednesdays, 5-7 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon.

Call Deacon Paul Gifford, 410-242-1025.

Three area churches prepare and deliver tasty suppers to the Westside Shelter, where homeless fellas dine in comfort.

But feeding 80-100 men is costly. If you'd like to contribute in some way, call Our Saviour Lutheran Church, 410-242-2141; Hope Presbyterian Church, 410-247-4673; or Halethorpe-Relay United Methodist Church, 410-242-5918.

Help add revenue to Bethany Lutheran Church's mission fund by shopping at the giant flea mart from 8 am. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at 1022 Haverhill Road. Bake table treats and light lunch fare will sell, too.

Call 410-644-7106.

The Rev. Ira Barr needs enthusiastic hobbyists to showcase their skills and creations at Arbutus United Methodist Church on Saturday, Sept. 15. The Community Hobby Fair he's organizing will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Share your talent by calling him at 410-242-9029.

All about learning

Our Saviour Lutheran Church's "Page Turners" prepared a list of 30 all-time favorite books to share with others who love engrossing narratives. Pick up a copy at 141 Laverne Ave. Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon.

• Join members of the church at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, and turn empty mason canning jars into luminary vases, planters or lanterns. A $5 fee covers art supplies. Call 410-242-2141 to sign up.

Want to know the origins of your favorite hymns? Hope Presbyterian Church's congregation invites you to "Hymn Sing History Sunday" at 10 a.m. Aug. 12, 4748 Shelbourne Road, where chords of truth will resonate. Call 410-247-4673.

Ask Pastor Ryan what's playing at St. Stephen Lutheran Church's Family Movie Night on Friday, Aug. 24, at 901 Courtney Road. Then, take the youngsters to enjoy a kid-friendly supper, which precedes the show at 5:30 p.m. Reel in details at 410-242-0422.

Call 410-789-9058 to find out how you can rent table space at Christ United Methodist Church's Harvest Festival from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. Early registration secures the best location. You're also welcome to visit 2833 Florida Avenue on Sundays, 9 a.m. to noon.

"Jonah" is more than a fish tale when viewed at the Sight and Sound Theater. Join Ascension Church's travelers Saturday, Sept. 22, to view the production and eat at Bird in Hand. Karrie Bangs has the particulars, 410-737-8148.