More families face economic hardship as unemployment rates skyrocket due to the pandemic, so some children return to school without supplies like pens and notebook paper.

One Montezuma County organization is trying to buck the trend with its annual School Supply Giveaway. The Montelores Early Childhood Council is distributing up to 500 backpacks filled with school supplies for pre-kindergarten through 12th-graders in the county.

This year, the drive comes as the jobless rate in the county is triple what it was last year.

“We have a lot of families that just need a little bit of help,” explained drive organizer Katrina Lindus, who also serves as MECC’s Health Integration Coordinator. “Especially this year, knowing that we have even more families that are out of work or underemployed.”

Lindus added that they’ve already processed more than 250 applications, with room to accommodate 500.

Lindus and MECC believe that providing school supplies prepares children for educational success. It also helps build self-esteem. And it helps teachers, many of whom buy supplies for their classes.

“We know that many do go out and buy extra supplies on a very limited salary,” said Lindus. “Especially with preschool teachers. They have an extremely limited salary, and yet they still spend a lot of money on their students because they love them.”

The School Supply Giveaway is August 15th at 8 AM in the Cortez Recreation Center parking lot.

I’m reporting on local and regional news in the Four Corners region for KSUT Public Radio. Stories and audio previously were aired and published by KSUT. Stories are archived at Open Range News.

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