Opinion: Many helped Back-To-School Shops thrive over years

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful community for the years of support to the Back-to-School Shop. For 12 years this project supplied low-income families with children in grades K-9 with needed school supplies in a “shop” format in Middlebury, Vergennes and Bristol during two days before the beginning of the school year.
This would not have been possible without the kind of local engagement and interest that we have consistently enjoyed. The generous financial support from our donors was sufficient to run the shop from year to year without any additional grant writing. The two-day shops were run by enthusiastic volunteers who organized, unpacked (and then repacked supplies at the end) and came to help in the three shops. One volunteer for each child helped with the “shopping.” The event was always a joyful experience.
Danforth Pewter let us use storage space in their building from year to year. The Middlebury Union High School football team showed up cheerfully every August to bring the stored boxes down from the attic space and transport them to Middlebury Union Middle School for us to distribute, and then returned to take the leftover items back up the three flights of rickety stairs into storage. The Little Pressroom has helped not only with printing but also with volunteer time. The Ben Franklin Store has ordered certain items for us at cost. Local churches have been very generous. The schools have been consistently cooperative. The United Way has been our umbrella organization and helped us in countless ways.
I would like to give special thanks to Bonnie McCardell, without whose original vision and commitment this whole project would not have happened. The general feeling for this project has always been: “This is our community, these are our children, our schools and our future citizens who need a bit of our time and support, let’s do it.”
It is good to know that the idea of the shop will continue, albeit in a different form through the schools, and that we, as a community, can continue to help the children who need it. To all of the good people who have been engaged in the Back-to-School Shop over the years I would like to offer my sincere thanks. It would not have been possible without you.
Martha Hill, Weybridge

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