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School supplies, socks and backpacks distributed through Canton programs

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CANTON — More than 150 youngsters in Canton and surrounding communities will return to school next week with new socks on their feet and backpacks filled with donated school supplies.

This year, for the first time, three agencies teamed up to collect monetary donations and school supplies for income-eligible families in Canton, Hermon, DeKalb, Russell, Edwards and Lisbon.

Applications for the supplies are being accepted through Sept. 4.

Representatives from Canton Church & Community Program, the Canton Neighborhood Center and Fidelis Care Inc. have distributed bags of school supplies from the basement of the Canton United Methodist Church, 41 Court St.

“It made sense to share the resources so everybody could get something,” said Lisa M. VanKirk, director of the Neighborhood Center.

The center received 72 backpacks donated by the Salvation Army and used $500 to purchase an assortment of socks for students heading back to the classroom.

“Next year, I would really like to have sneakers to give out as well,” Ms. VanKirk said.

Most of the supplies were collected or purchased by the Church & Community Program, which set up a collection box at its Main Street office where visitors dropped off supplies ranging from glue sticks to three-ring binders.

Fidelis Care Inc. provided string backpacks, notebooks and pencil cases. Fidelis provides free or low-cost health insurance to income-eligible people.

Patricia M. Sibbitts, project coordinator for Church & Community, said next year she would like to borrow an idea used in Gouverneur, where youngsters are provided free haircuts before school starts.

“I think we can keep improving it and improving it,” she said.

Besides items taken to the collection box, monetary donations were provided by private individuals and area businesses, including a $500 donation from Corning Inc., DeKalb.

Gift cards used to purchase supplies were donated by Family Dollar, Walmart, Save-a-Lot and Price Chopper.

For more information about applying for supplies or making a donation, call the Church & Community office at 386-3534.

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