Sumter United Ministries collects items for its annual school supply drive, Gear Up for Learning.

SUM Executive Director Mark Champagne said Gear Up has been in the community for more than 20 years and he hopes everyone gets involved with kids in need this school year.

“We collect from across the community and donate the supplies directly to the school district so that every school in the district gets supplies from us,” he said. “It goes to the guidance counselors because they know the kids who need it.”

Supplies are delivered directly to counselors rather than distributed to any child in the community to meet the needs of those who cannot obtain the essential supplies they need for the school year.

“We just do things maybe a little bit differently,” Champagne said. “Teachers are going to see it because they’re going to be working with the kids, and while they’re there they’re going to see that a kid doesn’t have a pencil or a notebook or something they need.”

Champagne is worried about driving this year due to inflation making basic items more expensive.

“We need supplies for children. I think inflation is going to lead to a greater need for children. It’s also going to make it difficult for people to donate,” he said.

He encouraged all Sumter residents to take advantage of the tax-free weekend, which begins tomorrow, and collect school supplies for the journey.

SUM will be held at First Baptist Church Gym, 107 E. Liberty St., Monday through Wednesday to organize supplies. The Sumter School District will collect donations from the church on Thursday, Champagne said.

For now, Sumterites are encouraged to donate to Gear-Up for Learning at two locations: the Sumter United Ministries office, 36 S. Artillery Drive, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and Bynum Insurance, 1170 Wilson Hall Road, now through August 9, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Donations can also be dropped off at First Baptist Church Gym Aug. 8-10 from 9 a.m. to noon.

The six most needed items, according to the SUM Facebook page, are loose-leaf notebook paper – college and wide lined, three-ring binders, composition notebooks, pocket folders without clasps, pocket folders with clasp and primary writing tablets (lined for kindergarten). ).

Other school supplies needed for the 2022-23 school year include the following: spiral notebooks (wide ruler and middle school), pencils, ink pens (blue or black), crayons, crayons, glue sticks , hi-liters, rulers, round-tipped scissors, large pencil boxes, backpacks, photocopy paper, tissues, hand sanitizer and reading books (Kindergarten and Grades 1-3 readers) .

All donated items must be new, but books can be used with care.

Donations will be directed to students in the Sumter School District, kindergarten through 12th grade.

For more information, contact SUM at (803) 775-0757. To make a financial donation, call or mail PO Box 1017, Sumter, SC 29151.

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