Good Luck

August 13th, 2020

school supply dive 2020 flyerROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


August is here, and soon, youth will be headed back to the classrooms. The Liberal Recreation Department and Genesis Family Health is helping local children get the supplies they need for school, while providing families a chance to cool off.

Next Saturday, the agencies are hosting the second annual “School Supply Dive” from 1 to 7 p.m. at Liberal’s Adventure Bay Water Park. As part of the event, visitors to the pool can bring a supply and enjoy a free day of swimming.

Genesis’ Julie Foster said last year’s initial event had a good turnout, and she is looking for better results this year.

“We were able to provide 30 school backpacks, and it was with no restrictions, just first come, first serve,” she said. “This year, we’re going to do our second school supply drive, and it’s my goal to keep this up every year. I think school supplies are something everybody needs, and they’re important for to have. I would hate to think there’s somebody out there who has a need for school supplies and isn’t able to obtain them and goes to school without.”

Foster said the community has been good about having things for the School Supply Dive and providing items to others.

“I want to make sure Genesis has its own input in providing that assistance because at the end of the day, that’s a big part of what Genesis does to be able to meet people’s needs,” she said.

Foster said she appreciates the work of the Rec Department to allow the drive to take place at Adventure Bay.

“Both things go hand in hand,” she said. “Kids come in and bring a supply and get in for free. For families, it’s great. You’re saving money going in. You’re able to spend more money on snacks, and at the end of the day, it goes for a great cause. I’m very excited to see the outcome of this year.”

Liberal’s schools are scheduled to start in late August, and with how education will happen locally still up in the air, Foster said supplies for students are still a must.

“They haven’t announced what route they’re going to take as far as learning and what that’s going to look like, but whether it’s going to be at home on part time or full time, kids are going to still need those supplies,” she said. “We want to make sure they have them, especially with everything going on with COVID and being away from friends and just how it’s drastically changed our lives, everybody’s lives.”

Foster said she believes those changes are harder on children simply because of a lifestyle of going to school, having a routine, seeing friends and teachers and recess.

“Now, all of that was completely gone,” she said.

So Foster said she wants to make sure Genesis does a little extra this year for children.

“We’re able to still provide them the supplies and for them to be excited about going back to school, however that might look like,” she said.

In addition to next week’s School Supply Dive, Foster said supplies can be brought to the Genesis office at 121 W. Third in Liberal as well.

“We welcome donors to come in and drop them off here,” she said. “We’ll be more than happy to collect them, but our main drive will be at the pool.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic ever present these days, Foster said the need for school supplies becomes even more significant.

“You want to bring a little bit of hope and happiness to kids and for them to know we still support them,” she said. “We still support their education. We still want them to get an education. Worst case scenario, kids aren’t able to go back. They still can utilize these items. They still can practice at home. They’re going to get an education at the end of the day, but what it’s going to look like, we’re really aren’t sure until they make the announcements needed.”

Overall, Foster said she wants to make sure kids have what they need when they go back to school, and she would like to provide at least double to triple the numbers Genesis had with last year’s drive.

“I would be excited if we could provide more than 100 backpacks, and I think we could do it,” she said. “We’ve had great turnouts with everything we’ve been doing the last three months, which has been a lot, so I wouldn’t expect those to be any less than that. I really want to set those standards high for myself, for Genesis and for the community and invite everybody to come have an evening of swimming with their family and friends. If they just want to stop by and drop off supplies and don’t want to swim, that’s fine as well.”

Adding to the need for school supplies, Foster said, is the lowered incomes families have had to deal with because of coronavirus.

“With incomes being affected with hours, with what your work looks like for any parent, it’s stressful enough to think ‘I got my hours cut in half because of COVID, and now, how am I going to make the rent, my bills?’” she said. “Here comes enrollment fees and school supplies and school clothes. Expenses add up, and whenever you’re already worrying about your hours being cut because of COVID, we want to be able to help.”

Despite the problems the pandemic has brought on, Foster said the Genesis workplace has been doing well.

“We have really worked together as a team, and our admin staff has been great with us in supporting us,” she said. “Anything we need, they’re there for us. As far as Genesis, I really wanted to make sure Genesis stepped up and did what it was supposed to do for the community, and we have really provided tons of services, along with the coalition, United Way, Stepping Stone Shelter.”

With this, Foster said several non-profits have rallied together and provided services for the community.

“That’s what we’re here to do. I think it’s great,” she said. “It gives me happiness and puts a smile on my face to know we had a big part of that to help the community so much.”

During the pandemic’s course, Genesis has been a part of handing out more than 350 food boxes, and Foster said this will not change.

“As a non-profit and when you’re providing social services, the needs only increase,” she said. “Your job only increases. The time and effort you have to put into this, it only increases. Our job, we have doubled or even tripled.”

Foster worked from home through much of the pandemic’s run, and she said work has still proved a bit stressful.

“You think, ‘Oh you’re working from home, it’s more relaxing,’” she said. “But I was 10 times busier. It was hard because I was at home, and our donations come here. It was definitely a big task.”

Foster said Genesis has seen a decrease in the amount of people who have come to the health center because of COVID, but those numbers are still higher than pre-pandemic figures.

“It still hasn’t slowed down to what life was before COVID,” she said. “Will it ever be to what life was before COVID? Who knows, but I’m happy to be busy. I’m very thankful to have a job and to provide services to others who need it.” 

Supplies collected from the School Supply Dive will be distributed from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13-15 at Genesis during the “Stuff the Bus Distribution Days.”

Free school supplies and backpacks will be available for Seward County students in need in grades pre-K through 12 and will be given out on a first come, first serve basis. For more information, call Genesis at 620-624-0463.

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