Created: 07/25/2014 6:48 PM KAALtv.com
By: Jenna Lohse
(ABC 6 News) -- It might be hard to believe, but school is right around the corner. Longfellow Choice Elementary in Rochester actually starts on Monday. We were there today, as many students got a running start at United Way's first distribution day of the year.
"I have four kids total, so a program like this really helps us out,” said Parent, Tina Williams. There's thousands in our area like Tina Williams, parents who need a little extra help getting their kids set for their first day of school. "Stuff is expensive, it all adds up too, especially as your kids get older and you have to get more,” she said.
That's where the running start for school program comes in handy. "We try to figure out what are the 10 to 15 standard items that kids need,” said Kris Brewer, with the United Way of Olmsted County.
United Way distributes supplies and back packs for those who qualify each year. This year's first pickup was at Longfellow Friday morning, because with a year-round 45-15 schedule, their first day of school is Monday.
"This just allows all of our students to come on equal footing on that first day. Just to be ready for school, be ready to learn, so that they don't have to borrow from a teacher or borrow from anybody and have that stigma attached to them,” said Lester Backus, Teacher at Longfellow Choice Elementary.
More than half of Longfellow students qualify for the free supplies, but still not everyone takes advantage of the program, meaning, "Teachers spend a lot of money on supplies which they shouldn't have to,” said Brewer.
"Here in Olmsted County there's over 8,000 kids who qualify,” said Jayvie Ramirez, with the United Way of Olmsted County.
Just around a hundred students got their supplies today. So, with several distribution days to go, there's still a huge need for donations like glue, pencils, and especially back packs.
"Any little help we can get is really great,” said Williams.