Salvation Army expects to distribute supplies to 1,000 students

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There were no rides or clowns at the Salvation Army's Back to School Fair, but a lot of kids and parents were there regardless.

Lee Ann Hobson, an administrative assistant for the Salvation Army, said 753 children were given donated items such as backpacks, pencils and notebooks on Thursday at the organization's community center, 602 Messanie St. The number was up from last year's turnout of 605 people and the most in the fair's four-year history, she said.

Including an additional 100 people who already received donated goods, along with latecomers, Salvation Army Capt. Chuck Cook said he expects more than 1,000 people will receive school supplies from the organization by the start of school next week.

"(The program) usually ends once school starts," he said. "Right now, we're working with the school district to make sure people go back to school with everything they need."

While the Salvation Army bought some of the tissues, pencils and backpacks to be given away, a majority came from the "Stuff the Bus!" program, held Friday and Saturday by the United Way of Greater St. Joseph and the Salvation Army at the South Belt Wal-Mart.

"About 80 percent of the items here came from the bus program," Ms. Hobson said.

This was the first fair for Capts. Chuck Cook and his wife, Dana, who were selected to lead the organization in St. Joseph in early July.

"It was our first rodeo," she said. "It was amazing."

Mr. Cook said the program, the first public event they helped out with, allowed them to meet people in the area.

"This was our first time we were in action," he said. "It was really impressive to us how smoothly everything went."

Overall, Mr. Cook said he was glad that his first interaction with the city was a helpful one. "There's a lot of need right now and we see that," he said.

In case there is still more of a need in the community, Mr. Cook and Ms. Hobson said they have enough leftover supplies to go around.

"We have enough to sustain the program," Mr. Cook said.

Those still interested in receiving school supplies from the Salvation Army should contact the community center at (816) 232-5824.

Andrew Gaug can be reached

at andrewgaug@npgco.com.

Credit: St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.

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