Livingston Parish volunteers rally to sponsor school supply drive for needy students
LIVINGSTON PARISH – Louisiana families, like many families across the nation, face unprecedented financial struggles caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, and in one parish community members are working together to provide support to parents with school-age children.
Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor, local volunteers, and area businesses are sponsoring the annual 'Assess the Need' campaign to provide school supplies for students in Livingston Parish for the new school year.
This is the 20th year the not-for-profit organization has provided supplies to needy students, and this year’s campaign may prove to be its most challenging because of constraints and economic concerns caused by COVID-19
“Many of our families and local businesses have been directly impacted this year by the Coronavirus, which has created an added struggle to what can already be a challenging time for parents and grandparents to finance their children’s needs to go back to school,” Taylor said.
“By helping struggling families receive the school supplies their children need, they can prioritize their limited resources on food and clothing,” he said. “Our program is working with our local schools to make sure that every student has the tools he or she needs to learn and succeed – whether that’s in a traditional classroom setting or in this new virtual environment.”
The program will provide school supplies for nearly 3,000 students who need assistance this year. Nearly 26,000 students are enrolled in Livingston Parish Public Schools.
Taylor noted that constraints caused by COVID-19 has caused the campaign to rely on new strategies to raise needed funds for the program.
Traditionally, volunteers have stood outside the three parish Wal-Mart Superstores in Denham Springs, Walker and Watson to collect a large share of the revenues for the program. No volunteers are allowed outside the stores this year because of health concerns. At the same time, Taylor said he has not been able to schedule the program’s Annual Chef’s Showcase, which gives all proceeds to Assess the Need.
“Not being able to hold events or have face-to-face meetings has meant we must rely on the goodwill of our donors to seek us out,” Taylor said.
He noted that Assess the Need signs have been posted in several area businesses and churches with QR codes on them, allowing donors to use the camera apps on their cell phones to connect directly to a pay portal on Venmo or PayPal.
At the same time, links to those digital pay portals are available at www.AssesstheNeed.com.
Donations also can be mailed to Assess the Need, P. O. Box 1802, Denham Springs, LA 70727.
Taylor said the supplies are being distributed to all parish schools before the first day of class on Friday, Aug. 7, enabling teachers and counselors to handout the supplies to students right away.
“It’s important that our students begin the school year on a positive chord, especially given the circumstances of this year. We believe a strong start can set the tone for the rest of the school year,” Taylor said. “We want to send the message that each child matters.”
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