Fresh paper and pencils, the smell of a purple crayon...

Back to school time.

"We're collecting school supplies and gently used children's clothing for students in kindergarten through 12th grade at area churches," said Kingsland back to school supply collection co-organizer Gina Jahn, anticipating the distribution of donated school supplies on Aug. 21 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Spring Valley, for which a collection is currently underway.

"We are gathering items and monetary donations through our local churches. We set up the church on Monday, Aug. 19, and will shop for more needed items on Tuesday and Wednesday before the distribution night. The supplies are offered to any student in the Kingsland School District who needs supplies to begin their year on the right foot."

The project is important to students throughout the Kingsland school district because school supplies, lunch fees and all needed items for school are a large expense that happens all at the same time, especially for families with multiple school age children, explained Jahn, and this can very quickly become a problem for any family. They hope that these supplies help kick off all students school year on a positive note.

Jahn related how the distribution works once pens, pencils, crayons, folders, notebooks, erasers, calculators and those jeans that just didn't fit for another week are gathered at the church. Volunteers have tables set up with the donated and purchased school supplies. Each family is paired with a volunteer to help them shop and find each item needed from the school supply list for their grade level.

"The list of supplies has definitely changed with the use of technology in the schools. Also, the support for this project has grown," said Jahn. "In the beginning, we struggled to have enough of each item for our students, and we are now able to provide what is needed for each student. Many of the volunteers have been involved each year in some way with this community project, but we could also use more help."

Jahn likes to help make the collection and distribution happen each year.

"It's fun to meet some of the children from our district and watch them get their new supplies. I have always loved the start of school and new supplies," she said. "It is exciting watching this community come together again to help where there is a need. It is exciting to live somewhere filled with caring people. We hope that it is fun for the children to be able to pick out their own supplies."

She'd like the community to understand how necessary their support is to continuing this project and how appreciative the children and families are to the community, including support from local businesses and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

"Those of us that are there that evening get the 'thank yous,' but we need to share them with the community that supports the project," she said.

Jahn concluded, "We don't ask for any paperwork or appointments. We invite anyone in our communities needing supplies." Students and their parents may stop at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, 805 S. Broadway, on Aug. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. and pick their new pencils and paper and be smartly ready for the new school year.