Parents say School Supply Program is a 'huge benefit' for the community
Town of Lancaster Youth Bureau Social Worker Karen Schanne and Lancaster School Psychologist Dr. Cathy Topper started the program more than 10 years ago and since then it has expanded.
“We came up with this idea as a way to help our families in our community who are on the free lunch program through the Lancaster School District and who are struggling financially,” Schanne said. “Times are tough. People have lost their jobs or for medical reasons can’t work or they are working but they still are within the income guidelines to be eligible for this program because their hourly wages don’t make ends meet.”
Schanne sent out 450 letters to families who qualified for the program and even though only 215 families showed up on Wednesday, she expects more families will come to the youth bureau for assistance either before school starts, during school, or as new families apply for the program.
“A couple of years ago, I remember when it was at 350 families so it increases steadily each year,” Schanne remarked.
Dr. Topper said this program provides students the opportunity to be ready to learn and also eliminates the worry of mom or dad not being able to buy school supplies.
“It removes the stress from the families,” commented Dr. Topper. “I can’t imagine having little ones and knowing that I have to get school clothes and supplies. I know myself, we had three kids and when my kids were little we would spend well over a $100 just in school supplies. Where does that money come from?
The program is not intended to cover everything on a school list, but to help reduce costs so that parents can use some of their money toward new clothes or sneakers, said Schanne.
“It’s a terrific program,” said an anonymous Lancaster resident and mom of three, who was waiting in line to receive some assistance this school year. “They have a lot of services that we take advantage of and my kids also volunteer and participate in other programs, such as the babysitting program.”
If this program were to ever be eliminated she said it would affect her family greatly as they have come into some hard times and having this program really helps.
“If it went a way it would be detrimental to a lot of people,” she remarked.
Other moms agreed saying, it is a huge benefit and they added that the school supply list isn’t getting any smaller.
“The youth bureau provides so much to the community,” said a Depew resident, who also wished to remain unidentified. “Karen Schanne, she works with my daughter at Court Street, she’s amazing. The youth bureau is a great place. I have a feeling this year with the way things are there is going to be even more people here.”
In order to provide families with school supplies, including glue, scissors, folders, crayons, notebooks, three ring binders, easers, pencils, pens, Schanne and Dr. Topper received a $2,000 donation from the Lancaster Middle School Teachers hockey tournament, as well as donations from various school groups, clubs, and organizations. Volunteers also spent two Saturdays at the Tops D&L Plaza in August asking for donations to generate extra help, the youth bureau’s teen volunteers brought in donations to earn volunteer hours, and there were drop offs from various people in the community.
“It is a nice collaboration between the schools and the community to make this possible,” said Schanne.
Also, to pack up the supplies for families about 15 youth volunteers came out to help, including Elizabeth Simson, a senior at Orchard Park High School.
Daughter of Dr. Topper, Simson has helped distribute school supplies to families since the program began.
“I just like helping people that are less fortunate,” said Simson. “I never really had that problem. So, it is just nice to give back and help others.”
To inquiry about the program or other programs call 683-4444. The youth bureau is located at 200 Oxford Ave., and is opened from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“It is a great program,” said Dr. Topper. “I think it is a very concrete example of what this youth bureau does for the community.”