Hours before the doors opened to get free school supplies, dinner and a haircut, one family already was waiting outside.
Connor Davis, an eighth-grader at Clark-Pleasant Middle School, and his family lined up at Grassy Creek Elementary School at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday for the Fast Track supply giveaway that started at 5 p.m.
“This is really going to help our family because we don’t have to go out and buy supplies,” Davis said. “We are able to save money for other things we need.”
Davis and his family were one of more than 525 people who received free school supplies Tuesday thanks to United Way’s Fast Track program. The program partners with local schools to give low-income families the assistance they need to get their children school supplies.
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“It takes about $30 per child to get them ready for school,” said Nancy Lohr Plake, United Way of Johnson County executive director.
“So we help the families not have to spend that money.”
Melanie Ulloa has four children in school, and for her, this program is a lifesaver.
“This helps us out financially big time,” Ulloa said. “I have four kids to buy for, and it’s always really expensive.”
Ulloa thanked the donors for making the event possible. The donations are collected by schools and at Stuff the Bus events at different locations, such as local Walmart stores, where customers are encouraged to buy items and put them in school buses.
“I’m on disability, so I can’t work and wouldn’t be able to give my child the school supplies she needs,” Teresa Johnson said. “So because of the generosity of the people giving, she can get what she needs.”
Many families have been attending Fast Track for years, but it’s the first year for the Dixon family.
Damian Dixon had a job making about $45,000 a year as a construction worker. However, he got hurt and was no longer able to work his physically demanding job, and he had a hard time finding a new job.
“We are extremely blessed for this opportunity,” Dixon said. “I never imagined I would be in this circumstance, but knowing I have the community to help my kids get what they need means the world to me.”
Although Dixon is taking advantage of the Fast Track program this year, he hopes to give back in the future.
“Whenever I’m back on my feet, be it next year or five years from now, I want to give back to this program because they really helped us out when we needed it the most,” he said.