Children to receive supplies

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 22, 2002

Two weeks from now, America's school children return for classes in the new school year.

They will march down hallways and into classrooms ready to expand their minds.

Thanks to the generosity of Oak Park Mall shoppers, 203 of them will

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have the tools to use in school.

The Salvation Army Austin Corps picked up 203 HyVee shopping bags full of school supplies Monday.

The items were purchased by shoppers at Oak Park Mall, who chose names on a "Caring Tree" sponsored by the Salvation Army.

The students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade will receive the school supplies next week.

"Every school in Mower County is represented this year and we're really happy for that," said Lynnette Jarvis, marketing coordinator for Oak Park Mall. "We're still collecting items at the mall office if shoppers want to participate. Some of the children otherwise won't get all the items they need to get started in school."

Each bag contains approximately $35 worth of school items. Jarvis contacted each school district in Mower County and requested a list of specific items the students would need.

"The largest group of students are the sixth and seventh graders," Jarvis said. "Those students in the upper grades, who needed items such as calculators, won't receive as many individual items as the lower elementary school children will receive."

Doug and Holly Leslie, the Salvation Army Austin Corps' new cadet couple, and Pat Wright, social services coordinator, visited Oak Park Mall Monday to collect the filled bags.

The school bags will be distributed Aug. 27 to those families who registered for the program. On Aug. 28, the Salvation Army will try to help any late-comers with back-to-school requests.

Both Jarvis and Wright credited the local Lutheran Brotherhood/AAL merged chapters with

another generous donation to the project. "We really appreciate what they do each year," said Jarvis. "This project wouldn't be as successful as it is without their financial support."

Wright echoes Jarvis' praise. "They do help a lot each year and we appreciate it," she said.

Both Jarvis and Wright marveled at the generosity of shoppers, who include many parents and grandparents considered "regulars." who buy for their own children and grandchildren as well as others.

"One family in need has nine children, including four or five school-age children. Obviously, they have a great need for help at school-time," said Wright.

The new book bags each student will receive are free compliments of the Salvation Army Austin Corps.

In all, the 203 children who were registered for the program come from 86 families throughout Mower County.

Oak Park Mall has been a participant for the last six years in the back-to-school project. The Minnesota Shopping Centers Association has sponsored the program state-wide for the last 10 years.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at