Seymour, Medora host Rock’n Ready school supply distribution events


Back-to-school shopping can be expensive for any family, but when you have five school-aged boys at home, it can break the bank.

That’s why Ashley Ford of Crothersville appreciates the help her family received Saturday during Jackson County United Way’s annual Rock’n Ready school supply distribution at Seymour High School.

Although Ford teaches her kids at home, they still need many of the same supplies as children who attend school.

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“For us, it really helps with things like paper and crayons because we go through so much of that during the year,” she said.

Ford heard about the event a few years ago but missed the distribution day, she said, so when she saw a flier advertising this year’s Rock’n Ready, she made sure to be there.

“It makes it easier because we can spend money on other things they need,” Ford said.

Held in the commons area at the high school, the event gave more than 600 local families an opportunity to pick up basic school supplies, including backpacks, notebooks, pencils, crayons, markers and other needed items, at no cost to them.

More than 30 volunteers, many of whom are teachers for Seymour Community School Corp., helped sort, set up and distribute the items.

As chair of the volunteer committee, Justin Brown, principal at Seymour-Jackson Elementary School, said he has no trouble finding people willing to help out.

“It makes me proud to be a part of this,” he said.

Rock’n Ready is more than just giving students boxes of crayons and a backpack, though, he added.

“It helps build their confidence, too, because they aren’t worried about not having what they need on the first day of school,” he said.

Ford’s son, Mark Carnahan, 11, said he liked being able to pick out his own backpack and supplies.

“I guess I’m ready for school now,” he said. “I got everything I need.”

Tonja Couch, executive director of Jackson County United Way, said there hasn’t been a significant increase in the number of families served at the Seymour event over the years, but they are reaching more families in the county by having separate distributions in Brownstown and Medora and supplying backpacks to students in Crothersville.

More than 17,000 supplies were donated by individuals, businesses, organizations and churches in the community during the Stuff the Bus campaign at Walmart and through collection drop-off boxes. United Way also used funds raised from the annual Rock’n Run 5K to purchase additional items.

Couch said although Rock’n Ready helps low-income families, there is no eligibility requirements.

“We know there are people that are struggling to make ends meet, who are working two or three jobs to make sure they have a roof over their heads and food to eat,” she said. “This benefits those families, too.”

When asked how they would use the money they saved on school supplies, parents answered with the most basic of things, like buying groceries or clothes for their kids, Couch said.

At Medora Community Schools, Rock’n Ready was more than just receiving free backpacks and school supplies.

A local stylist gave students free haircuts, Shoe Sensation measured their feet to provide them with a free pair of shoes, free clothing and toiletries were available and organizations had booths set up with information, giveaways and activities.

During the hour-and-a-half event, school officials said nearly 125 students attended with their family members.

Shannon Hunsucker, district coordinator for Medora’s after-school programs, helped organize the event that was conducted for the second year in a row. She also shared information about the after-school programs and helped parents fill out paperwork.

“We had so many thank-yous and just kids excited to be able to pick out their school supplies and teachers being thankful because they don’t have to go out and purchase all of these items, parents being thankful because it’s saving them so much money,” she said. “They can use that money for other needed resources and utility bills and food. We had several say, ‘Thank you for saving us this money.’”

The free shoes were a bonus because with many families having multiple kids to provide for, that adds up, Hunsucker said.

She heard several parents say, “This is so awesome.”

“With all of the work going into this, it really does mean a lot,” she said. “It makes it worth it.”

Heidi LePage was among the thankful parents. Three of her four kids attend Medora — Louis LePage, an eighth grader; Daulton Hineman, a fifth grader; and Gracelynn LePage, a second grader.

They filled their mesh backpacks with school supplies, and Louis and Daulton got their hair cut by Sarah Brown.

“I am from Medora and went K-12 here and have lived in Brownstown the last 10 years. I decided for my kids to go to Medora school,” Heidi said. “I like the small town, and they care in the community. They still care about me, and I’ve been gone for 10 years.”

Heidi said she typically would spend $100 per child for back-to-school needs.

“It’s expensive to have this many kids, and it’s cool to just come together as a community, I think,” she said. “They can’t believe they are getting free stuff.”

Martha Ault, store manager of Shoe Sensation in Seymour, said she and her assistant manager, Jami Bramlette, were more than happy to provide free shoes to Medora students.

Ault said she became aware of students needing shoes through information The Tribune shared after it was posted on the school’s Facebook page.

“I sent (Bramlette) a snapshot of it and I said, ‘Call these people because we can help them with shoes I know,’” Ault said. “Shoe Sensation does charity work this way, and it’s so helpful.”

They measured students’ feet to ensure they are fitted with the correct shoe size and jotted the information down on sheets of paper. The shoes will be delivered to the school to be distributed.

“We’re trying to be helpful because it’s a big expense, it really is,” Ault said. “With school supplies and clothes and everything else that comes along, when we can help, that’s what we want to do. If we can help out the ones that maybe need a new pair of shoes, then that’s a big deal for them, and we’re more than willing to do so.”

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