BUENA VISTA, Va. (WFXR) – For four years, Buena Vista City Public Schools have been distributing free school supplies for their students. Parents say they are very grateful to know they didn’t have to spend a small fortune to prepare their kids for back to school.
“Our administrative team got together and decided, ‘what we can do to help families?’ Especially this time of year if you have several kids getting ready to go back to school, it can get quite expensive,” says Dr. John Keeler, Buena Vista City Public School Superintendent.
In 2015, with money provided through a partnership with local businesses and Washington and Lee University, the school district decided to buy school supplies for their students for the entire year. The program started out by only supplying supplies for certain grade levels, but since then they have expanded. For the past two years, they have been supplying materials for pre-k to 7th-grade students.
For the past two weekends (Aug. 2-3 and Aug. 9-10), families were able to stop by the Wilford P. Ramsey Educational Center to pick up the free school supplies before the first day of school. Every kid was able to pick out their own bookbag, each containing a “start-up” kit with supplies like paper, glue, and pencils. They were also able to pick up a free book through the Blues Educational Foundation.
“We’re big on literacy here too. We give away a lot of reading books throughout the year and this is a venue where 400 and something books have gone out of here. So when they get a bookbag, we encourage every kid to get a book to read,” says Dr. Keeler.
Dr. Keeler says he enjoys seeing the children’s faces light up when they see all the supplies available to them and the parents continue to be thankful, especially those that have several kids in school.
When asked about the future of the program, Dr. Keeler said he hopes to expand the program to include high school students.
“I just think they need help getting supplies as well. Of course a lot of our kids work and try to help out, but here again, everybody has a bookbag. And if we can help them with that, then we feel good about ourselves to tell you the truth,” says Dr. Keeler.