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Editorial: Help nonprofits get ready for back to school

With the Fourth of July barely in the rearview mirror and the upcoming school year starting later than it has in over a decade with the governor's mandated post-Labor Day start, "back-to-school" is probably the last thing on most people's minds, even if it's taken over the seasonal shelves in retail outlets.

But nonprofits like The Shepherd's Staff and North East Social Action Program are in the throes of preparing for a return to school, with programs designed to outfit Carroll County's less fortunate students with necessary supplies by the time classes resume in September.

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The Shepherd's Staff, in particular, said they believe the later start to the coming school year has affected the number of children who have been signed up to be beneficiaries of their Back to School program, and have extended the registration period to July 21.

"Normally, by … the last week of registration, we have registered approximately 800 or so children for school supplies," Executive Director Brenda Meadows told us in an email. As of Tuesday, only 350 students had been registered by a parent or guardian, she said.

Both The Shepherd's Staff and NESAP provide classroom essentials at no cost to Carroll students in need, but both also require donations of said supplies. The later start to the school year may also stymie the flow of donations.

Meadows said The Shepherd's Staff needs tabbed dividers, 1-inch and 1 1/2-inch three-ring binders, Duo-Tang folders, colored pencils, wide-ruled paper, and new backpacks. The Shepherd's Staff is also asking for monetary donations to purchase new shoes, new or nearly new school clothing and new books.

Registration or dropping off supplies for the program can be done during the nonprofit's hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday; and 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at The Shepherd's Staff, 30 Carroll St. in Westminster. No registrations for the back to school program can be done over the phone and students must be residents of Carroll County to be eligible. For more information, call 410-857-5944 or visit the website at www.shepstaff.org.

NESAP needs the following items for its Back to School Assistance program before August: backpacks, three-ring binders, 3-by-3 Post-It notes, pencil top erasers, three-holed folders with pockets with and without prongs (blue, green, red, purple, orange and yellow), large glue sticks, highlighters, thin markers, dry erase markers, spiral and composition notebooks, wide-ruled paper, large canvas pencil cases with holes for a three-ring binder, red and blue pens, rulers, and USB flash drives.

Donations can be dropped off at NESAP's store, which is open from 9 a.m. to 3 pm. Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays; and is located at 1046 S. Carroll St., Hampstead. For information on this program, or the organization, call 443-952-0097 or 410-374-9099.

Heading back to school might be the last thing on parents' or students' minds with more than seven weeks of summer vacation left, but keep these programs to help Carroll's less fortunate kids at the forefront.



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