Part of the fun of a new school year is shopping for pencils and notebooks and backpacks. But some youngsters don't get that experience because their parents just can't afford it. Instead of excitement, they feel embarrassed to go back to school because they don't have the supplies they need.

Knowing that touched at the heartstrings of dozens of community members and businesses this year. So when Forest Grove School District rolled out its annual Operation School Supplies campaign, donations of backpacks and school supplies started pouring in.

By the time school started, we were able to provide new backpacks, stocked with school supplies, to more than 135 youngsters.

In addition, Costco donated new backpacks filled with school supplies to all 389 students at Cornelius Elementary School.

Some parents, when buying supplies for their own children, picked up extra binders and crayons to donate to the campaign. Some people took a school supply list for a certain grade and filled a backpack with everything on the list. Others donated cash that could be used to buy what was needed.

One of the big donors again this year was a law firm that isn't even based in Forest Grove. Klarquist Sparkman is a Portland firm that has adopted our district the past few years. Their employees gathered so many backpacks and school supplies that it took a district delivery van to bring them all back. The donations included every school supply imaginable, plus a number of expensive calculators for higher-level math classes.

Sodexho, the company that provides janitorial services for Forest Grove School District, also was a generous donor. The company contributed dozens of backpacks and school supplies and helped organize the work party to fill the backpacks with the right supplies.

Office Depot was another big contributor, donating 25 new backpacks.

The backpacks and other school supplies were given to school counselors, so they could discreetly give them to children who needed them. They came back with stories about appreciative thanks, big smiles and relieved youngsters who were able to fit in with their classmates without the stigma of not having the supplies they needed to do their work.

Every year, this campaign gets bigger. Last year we were able to provide backpacks to 90 children. This year it was 135. Next year, we'll try for even more.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to Operation School Supplies and for caring so much about the children in our district.

Connie Potter is the Public Information/Volunteer Coordinator for the Forest Grove School District. You can e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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