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United Way of Medina County collecting back-to-school supplies

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    Stephanie Zingaro, left, member benefits coordinator with the Wadsworth Chamber of Commerce and chairwoman of the volunteer engagement committee of United Way; Maria Burk, director of community impact and interim director for the United Way; and Susan Vlcek, community volunteer, were at United Way’s Stuff the Bus event Monday.

    CHRISTINE JENKINSON / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — United Way of Medina County’s Stuff the Bus is collecting back-to-school items through July 25 to help families in need.

Under the project — which kicked off Monday — United Way collects, sorts and delivers donated and gently used back-to-school supplies for kids in the community who do not have the resources to buy their own.

Maria Burk, director of community impact and interim director for United Way, said about 1,200 students benefit from this project in some way.

“(This event) is important, because when you look at the statistics in the county, 32 percent of our population is living paycheck to paycheck,” Burk said. “If you have a family of four, they’re spending anywhere from $300 to $500 on back-to-school supplies. This helps alleviate that for parents. So instead of needing to spend resources on back-to-school supplies, they can make sure that there’s food in the house or that other bills are paid.”

The shopping list includes Clorox wipes, backpacks, dry erase markers, earbuds/headphones, scientific calculators, binders, tissues, crayons, glue, hand sanitizer and notebooks, both wide- and college-ruled.

Burk joined United Way in 2013 and has been donating ever since.

“Back-to-school supplies are so expensive, they can range anywhere from $75 to almost $200 when you get into the older grades and you start needing to get specialized calculators and more advanced technology for kids,” Burk said.

Stephanie Zingaro, chairwoman of the United Way volunteer engagement committee, emphasized what kids need to succeed.

“No kid should go without supplies,” said Zingaro, who is member benefits coordinator with the Wadsworth Chamber of Commerce. “Children can’t help the situation they’re in, and so it’s really important for them to not feel worse about not having supplies when the other kids do. I want them to have the same advantages as the other kids do.”

Around Medina County, there are brown boxes for new or gently used school supplies outside of local businesses and offices.

Residents can get involved with Stuff the Bus by donating school supplies or volunteering 2-5 p.m. July 25 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 26 to sort through the donations at United Way, 728 E. Smith Road.

Locations for the boxes include:

  •  Huntington Bank branches:

— Great Oaks, 950 High St., Wadsworth;

— Montville, 3460 Medina Road;

— Northland Drive: 975 N. Court St., Medina;

— Medina Public Square: 39 Public Square;

— Wadsworth Crossings: 1081 Williams Reserve Blvd.;

  •  Medina Schools administration office: 739 Weymouth Road., Medina;
  •  Medina County District Library: 210 S. Broadway St., Medina;
  •  University of Akron-Medina Campus: 6300 Technology Lane, Lafayette Township;
  •  Catholic Charities Medina County: 4210 N. Jefferson St., Medina;
  •  Cleveland Clinic Akron General Lodi Hospital: 225 Elyria St., Lodi.

To volunteer a location, call office coordinator Bobbie Gardner at (330) 636-0062 or email bgardnerunitedway@medina.org.

Susan Vlcek is a community volunteer who has been donating for the past 15 years.

“Education defines the future of a kid,” Vlcek said.

“It’s an opportunity for people to show how important kids are to them. It’s a way to show how important it is to support the kids in your community. Everybody wants to support their kids in the community and this is an easy way to do it,” Vlcek said.

“On your first day of school, that just sets you up for success for the rest of the year.”

Donations will be distributed through the following organizations: Highland Schools, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Brunswick Schools), Zion Lutheran Church (Buckeye Schools), Salvation Army (Medina and Wadsworth school districts) and the Cloverleaf PTO.

Contact reporter Christine Jenkinson at areanews@medina-gazette.com or (330) 721-4060.
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