Nearly two weeks after the 2018-19 school year ended, students at Crothersville Elementary School had all of the supplies they needed for 2019-20.
Some items already had been collected before a large donation from Brownstown Church of Christ finished off the school’s supply list.
"God is good," Principal Drew Markel said in a post on Facebook announcing the good news.
Soon after that, Tiffany Reynolds, who started The Helping Hearts initiative in town, contacted Markel about taking it a step further. They wanted to provide school supplies to the junior-senior high school, too.
With donations from individuals, businesses, industries and organizations, all Crothersville Community School Corp. students — from preschool to 12th grade — will start the school year Aug. 1 with everything they need.
Paper, pencils, glue sticks, folders and more will be in their classrooms at the start of the school year.
Plus, during an event from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday in the cafetorium at the school, students can pick out a backpack and clothing and stop by informational booths. New and gently used clothing for infants, children and adults will be available.
"This is pretty much for anyone that attends Crothersville schools and their families to come and take advantage of this," Reynolds said. "We want to create it like it’s a special experience for them. It’s like a shopping experience except you just don’t have to pay for anything when you leave."
Information will be available about Scott County Family YMCA’s after-school program, First Baptist Church of Crothersville’s food pantry, Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry’s services and Jackson County United Way’s agencies and resources. Also, Covering Kids and Families will give away free hot dogs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m.
The Helping Hearts started Nov. 26, 2018, after Reynolds and a few other residents began thinking of ways to give back to the community.
First, they partnered with Beauty from Ashes Tattoo Parlor to collect winter coats. They wound up with nearly 60 new and gently used coats and gave most of them away, but some are still in the school’s Community Closet.
The next project was a virtual angel tree communitywide gifting project, where Reynolds obtained a list of children in need from the school and posted each child’s sex, grade and clothing and shoe size on The Helping Hearts Facebook page. Then people could comment that they would buy the items.
Community volunteers came together to wrap the gifts and deliver them to the homes of 85 boys and girls.
At one house, Reynolds said a mother of four cried because her husband had lost his job the previous month and they didn’t have any gifts for their kids.
"There were several of these families that were just overjoyed that we were giving a gift," Reynolds said. "There are people out there, they want so much that they don’t have, and then for us to be able to give just by coming together as a community and supporting each other, it was huge."
The success of those two projects led to the school supply drive. Reynolds initially wanted to do a backpack drive, but that expanded after receiving the donations from Brownstown Church of Christ.
"We were definitely going to try to collect items, but never did we think we were going to collect so many things in such a short amount of time," she said. "It literally took us (two) weeks out of school and we had all of the elementary supplies taken care of. It was just overwhelming. When they pulled up to the school with that truckload of supplies, I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh! This is huge for our little town.’"
When the junior-senior high school students were added to the project, backpack drives were conducted by The Peoples Bank, Beauty from Ashes Tattoo Parlor, The Lunchbox and Cerrowire.
After those were collected, the United Way provided the remaining ones needed.
"We have gotten enough backpacks for 450 kids," Reynolds said.
That’s more than enough for the corporation, so the ones left over after Monday’s event will be stored until they are needed.
Reynolds said she’s glad to be a part of The Helping Hearts because of what it has done and continues to do for the community.
"I grew up around here and lived away for several years, and after I had my daughter, we were in Michigan, and I decided to move home because I wanted her to have that same experience like going to school and growing up in a small town that I had," said Reynolds, a 1993 Crothersville High School graduate.
"I always felt like when I was growing up in Crothersville that there was just this sense of that small community pride that if somebody was down on their luck or somebody needed help, you didn’t ask permission to be like, ‘Oh, do you guys think it would be a good idea to help?’ You just just jumped in," she said.
Since returning to town, Reynolds also has joined the parks board and school board. She said she wants to help make Crothersville a better place.
"I’m just trying to raise awareness and remind people that we have a really great thing in Crothersville, and it’s that sense of pride and that sense of community," she said.
"Sometimes, I think we forget about that, and it just takes a couple people, ‘Hey, do you want to do this? Let’s do this.’ It’s just getting people excited about it," Reynolds said. "That has been a really fun part of the process for me is just seeing that there’s a need for something and to come up with a solution that benefits everybody."
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What: The Helping Hearts back-to-school clothing event and backpack distribution
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday (free hot dogs available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m.)
Where: Cafetorium at Crothersville Community Schools, 109 N. Preston St., Crothersville
Who: For all Crothersville students and their families
Information: Search for The Helping Hearts on Facebook