With uncertainties swirling around the start of the school year, parents and administrators with Moscow’s West Park Elementary chose to marshal their resources and help families with one ubiquitous variable — school supplies.

West Park Principal Brian Smith said selecting school supplies is always an exciting time of year for students. He said programs like the Stuff the Bus school supply drive, run by local chapters of the service club Kiwanis International, supplement a tremendous amount of need each year. However Smith said he wanted to offer additional support to West Park families in a year where family finances could be dramatically affected by fiscal upheaval related to COVID-19.

With the help of a $1,500 donation from the school’s Parent Action Team, Smith said they were able to set up a cache of supplies in the school’s gymnasium. Smith said families were allowed to peruse a selection of backpacks, notebooks, pens, markers and more — one family at a time — during orientation days.

“This way, a student needing supplies could come in with a parent and actually shop and look for items that they would want for the school year,” Smith said. “We understand that not all families have ready access to supplies and because students are learning both at home and school, they’re needing supplies for both locations, and we wanted to help as best as possible.”

West Park PAT President Brian Petty credited Smith with the idea of stockpiling school supplies for families but said this kind of support is not unusual for the organization. He said the group commonly supports other district activity like purchasing air conditioning units and helping with staff appreciation days and school concerts. He said the organization also hosts a slate of events that were canceled this year because of the pandemic, freeing up cash for other projects.

“Normally, we do all these other things — there’s the carnival that we do that the kids play at, we do multiple picnics and socials and things like that,” Petty said. “But with COVID, we haven’t been able to do any of that — so we had the funding to do it.”

Smith said it was important to him that students not only get what they need but can select the color and style they want as well.

While orientation events are over and the school’s gymnasium has been cleared, Smith said the school still has supplies to offer those West Park families that need the help. He noted it would not be unusual for families to have a much better idea of their school supply needs after the first day.

“Any family at West Park right now can contact the school,” Smith said. “We’re glad to arrange a time to have them pick or grab whatever they need and we will just continue this throughout the school year as we have a lot of supplies that we can give.”

Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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