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Going Back In Style

Backpacks, Supplies Donated To Area Students

The Chautauqua Center provided more than 800 backpacks to students throughout Chautauqua County. In Dunkirk and Jamestown, students were also given school supplies ahead of the 2019-20 school year. P-J photos by Jordan W. Patterson

Students at Bush Elementary School were treated to new backpacks and school supplies ahead of the new school year. Courtesy of the Chautauqua Center, about 800 students in Chautauqua County received the same.

Chautauqua Center representatives Sarah Gilbert, marketing specialist; Solimar Vazquez, certified application counselor; and Alicia Ekstrom, recruitment and marketing specialist, unloaded backpacks filled with school supplies Wednesday morning outside Bush. For the group, they were simply carrying on a Chautauqua Center tradition running six years.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that kids in the community, who may have parents who don’t have resources, get what they need to have a good first day of school,” Gilbert said.

Chautauqua Center officials made one final stop at Lincoln Elementary School to conclude their county-wide tour concluded after providing students with supplies in Dunkirk and Jamestown ahead of the 2019-20 school year.

Traditionally, the Chautauqua Center has hosted its Family Fun Day event where families and students are invited to one location, which was the case for Dunkirk elementary students earlier in the month when more than 400 backpacks were given out.

Alicia Ekstrom, recruiting and marketing specialist, gives out back packs to Jamestown students inside Bush Elementary School on Wednesday.

Students in the Jamestown Public Schools Summer LEAP (Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress) program were provided with the annual gifts. Summer LEAP is an expansion of Jamestown’s efforts to provide summer literacy intervention to prevent a regression in reading levels. The program saw more than 400 students enroll this year.

“We thought we could actually, potentially, reach more kids, or different kids, if we did it through LEAP,” Gilbert said.

Additionally, Chautauqua Center representatives visited various summer recreational programs, separate from JPS, throughout the city.

The backpacks and supplies are age specific, depending on the school and the grade level. A typical backpack may include pencils, pens, crayons, markers, papers, erasers, sharpeners and notebooks.

Or as Gilbert described it, “basically everything you would need.”

The local health clinic participates in the National Health Centers Week every August. Associated with the national week, the Chautauqua Center decided to implement a community give back event six years ago.

“We thought this would be a good way to celebrate, and now it’s just grown and grown,” Gilbert said.

This year, the local organization was able to provide the most amount of backpacks yet in the history of its ongoing tradition.

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