Students were given an array of school supplies, including scissors, glue and colored pencils (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)
LAWRENCEVILLE — On Thursday afternoon, Miatta Russell and her sons made the short trip to the front office at the Lawrenceville Housing Authority, where they live.
The group didn’t come down to talk about maintenance problems or pay rent. They were there to pick up free school supplies at the neighborhood’s first “Tools for School” event.
“Well, I believe it helps me out a lot because right now I’m not working,” Russell said. “I don’t have to buy anything for right now. I’m so grateful for that.”
Her two second-graders walked out with two new book bags, paper, pencils, glue and much more to bring on Wednesday when they show up to Lawrenceville Elementary School.
LHA's Resident Services Coordinator Liz Pamfilis, who was a teacher for two years, saw the need at the facilities. With more than 200 children at the property, she thought of a way to help.
“LHA is committed to ensuring that our children excel in school and that they are, at the very least, equipped with the basic school supplies needed to start their school year in the right direction,” she said. “We know that is can be quite challenging for hard working families on fixed incomes to afford school supplies, especially in light of the recent price increases this year for supplies.”
In July, Pamfilis got in contact with some folks from the community, who came to her rescue.
“I accidentally got a hold of someone at Infiniti of Gwinnett and they do a huge back to school drive,” she said with a laugh. “They give to a bunch of people locally. She told me they had a bunch of leftover backpacks … so between Infiniti of Gwinnett and the Boy Scouts (Troop No. 563), we brought in a ton (of supplies).”
LHA was able to pack more than 90 new bags with filler paper, composition notebooks, pencils, pens, expo dry erase markers, crayons or markers, colored pencils and scissors. Half of the bunch also received a binder. As the children walked out, they were given an additional pencil case and box of tissues.
On Friday morning, Troop No. 563 arrived to pack the bags, pass them out and interact with the children during the two-hour event.
“They understand the importance of service,” said George Gordon-Smith of The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints, where the troops meets. “They are getting a sense of community, which is really important.”
In addition to giving out bags and hanging out with their friends, Gordon-Smith believes the scouts are learning about money.
“Kids who have things don’t realize cost,” he said. “They take that for granted, so this helps them understand what goes into providing this type of service, maybe some about the expense, the effort their parents put into it and certainly the community’s needs.”
LHA’s mission is to “promote adequate and affordable housing, economic opportunity and a suitable living environment free from discrimination.” For more information, visit www.lawrencevilleha.org.