Free school supplies offered to low income Anderson Co. families

Free school supplies offered to low income Anderson Co. families

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By ANN KEIL
6 News Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) -- With the start of school just weeks away, an Oak Ridge-based non-profit is lending a helping hand to families.

Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties is offering lower income families that qualify at least $25 worth of school supplies.

Children in grades K-12 will have the opportunity to make their way through a school supplies store, pick out a backpack of their choice, and fill it with school supplies.

"They look for what they really like. It is like shopping for them," said Annie Cacheiro, ADFAC's school supplies program director.

But Cacheiro says the program is not just about brand new school supplies and a nice backpack. She says it is about the financial burden lifted off these Anderson County families.

"There are people who have been laid off from their jobs, people who are struggling on one income and before that they had two. They may have unemployment, but it's running out," said Cacheiro.

Most importantly, she says, it is about providing an experience for these kids, when in the past they may have started school without the materials they needed to succeed, things as simple as paper and a box of pencils.

"Some of these kids may not have control over a lot of things, but that's something they have control over in that moment," Cacheiro says.

Tim Alcorn, a volunteer at the school supplies store, said his employer, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, allowed him paid time off to help out. It is something he has done for the last six years. 

"I have two kids of my own, and it helps being able to see these other kids try to start on the same footing will all the others when school does start," said Alcorn.

Alcorn is one several volunteers Cacheiro says have made the giving possible. The non-profit has faced depleting resources, such as the loss of several grants, while the price of the materials has not dropped.

The situation makes their jobs tougher, she says, but also makes their desire to help lower income families that much stronger.

"What's really important to us is that every child walks into that classroom with what they need," said Cacheiro.

The non-profit is hoping to serve around 1,500 kids before the start of school. They offered supplies to 1,400 last year.

ADFAC will keep its free school supplies store open through next Thursday.

Lower income families are only eligible if they live in Anderson County or Oak Ridge, and their children go to school there.

ADFAC officials can be contacted at (865) 483-6028.

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