Binders, Pencils, Erasers: Charity Readies Kids For School

On Monday the Homer food pantry inside the United Methodist Church was filled with families lining up for their chance to pick up fish fillets, beans, rice, and other necessities. But before they reach the food a few split off to get into another line leading into a separate room where the Omicron Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma is set up handing out backpacks full of the goodies every child needs for school.

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“Do you like your backpack?” “Yeah a lot. It has a peace sign on it. It’s kind of multi-color.” “Is that your favorite thing that you’ve gotten so far.” “Yeah.”

Eight year old Lana Prescott is going to the third grade this year. She’s standing in line with her eleven year old sister Makayla who is moving into the sixth grade.

“We’re just getting some of our school supplies. Mama saved some of our school supplies from last year like pencil boxes and glue sticks and stuff like that.”

The girls’ mother Crystal is on the other side of the room keeping a close eye. She says the past two years she’s gotten as many supplies as possible from the pantry.

“Even with one child the list that they give you at school is so long that even at the food pantry they can’t possibly provide you with all of the supplies but it’s still a great deal of help.”

Helping the parents is what most members of Delta Kappa Gamma say motivates them.

“Parents and the students themselves are thrilled to get a backpack and have most of their supplies in it.”

Milly Martin is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma. She says her children are grown and in their forties now but she remembers what it was like to get them ready for that first day.

“Whoa boy what do we need to have? What do we have to get? We did have to do that.”

But, she also remembers the lists back then were different.

It was not quite as complex as it appears to be today. It surprises me many times the things that the teachers do ask for that I know some people simply can’t afford.”

After a quick Google search I found the supply lists for West Homer Elementary, Homer Middle School and Homer High school. The supplies of course varied by grade, but there were similarities in each list. Of course kids need notebook paper, binders, pencils, and erasers. Plus kids need their arts and craft supplies and gym shoes, and then there are calculators and protractors for older kids…

“I’ve come here a couple of years in a row and they’ve always been a saving grace.”

When I spoke with West Homer Principal Ray Marshall about Delta Kappa Gamma’s work to help. He had nothing but high praise.

We have a large school supply list and sometimes it’s hard to put together and they do a great job removing barriers for children.

“Every teacher in our school will spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on snacks on school supplies and on bolstering their professional education. This is a great helping hand for teachers”

The principal added the current supply list hasn’t changed since he started at West Homer and he doesn’t think it’s much different from others he’s seen throughout his career even while serving in other states.

Delta Kappa Gamma’s members say they help about 100 students in the Kachemak Bay Area get supplies every school year and there is always a need as the school year moves forward.

“If they didn’t give it out I wouldn’t be able to make it.”

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Quinton Chandler is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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