Ensuring students have the supplies they need

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BENNINGTON — A group of local organizations is coming together to make sure that local students have the supplies they need to succeed when they head back to school.

As part of New England Newspapers ongoing Youth Empowerment Series, the Bennington Banner is working with local partners to distribute 100 backpacks filled with school supplies to students whose families aren't able to afford everything they need to start school. The backpacks were able to be filled thanks to generous donations from major sponsors Heritage Family Credit Union and Main-Care Energy.

This is the first year the Banner has run this specific back-to-school event, which it hopes to expand in future years with more involvement with the community.

Volunteers will meet on Thursday to fill the backpacks, which will then be distributed by the schools. The bags will be filled with items such as water bottles, crayons, colored and regular pencils, safe-scissors, rulers, notebook paper, dry erase markers, pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, pens, note pads, tissues, and band-aids. The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless, and the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce helped in identifying students in need.

"There's a need for helping those less fortunate in Bennington County period," said Chris Oldham, executive director of the homeless coalition, "but this helps with that. There are many kids who go into school without the proper supplies, because they can't afford them."

Reach staff writer Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122 or @DerekCarsonBB

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