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Cuyahoga Falls -- Nearly 400 families were invited to the Cuyahoga Falls unit of Good Neighbors for the organization's annual school supplies drive at the First Christian Church Aug. 12 through 14.
Kim Gaug, chairperson of Good Neighbors, works with nearly 25 to 30 volunteers each day to help families complete their children's school supply list.
Cuyahoga Falls Good Neighbors serves residents in Cuyahoga Falls, Silver Lake, Stow, Munroe Falls and Hudson.
"They're able to get whatever they need here," Gaug said on the first day of the drive Aug. 12. "If we see we're running low on something, we will go out and buy more."
Families were able to collect items such as backpacks, pencils, pens, notebooks, colored pencils and crayons. Clothing items such as shirts, hoodies, socks and new packs of underwear were also donated for younger children. A voucher for a new pair of shoes from Payless were also given out.
Families were also able to complete food orders and pick them up during the school supplies drive, which included grocery items that could be used for packed lunches and other meals for struggling families.
Lisa, a mother of three, said one of her children is entering their first year of college, while her other two are 11 and 12 years old, entering the sixth and seventh grade. She said although the 18-year-old is commuting to the University of Akron, the cost of supplies for her children are still adding up.
"There's more than just school supplies that I need to get. It's the new clothes, the food for lunches, maybe they want to try sports this year, so there's the cost for that," she said. "If I can get a little help getting these key supplies, then it's a big relief."
She said the volunteers helping at the drive were friendly and "bend over backwards" to make sure families have everything they need for the start of school.
"Each year, I can almost guess what [my children] will need, but there's always some items on the list that are new, like boxes of tissues, Purell -- one of them needs a graphing calculator," Lisa said. "They may seem like inexpensive items, but when you add it all up for multiple kids, on top of all of the other fees, it's a lot."
Gaug added that if there is something on a child's list that they don't have available at the drive, volunteers will go out and purchase it.
Good Neighbors of Cuyahoga Falls, which has been in existence since 1968, is at the First Christian Church at 2235 Third St. Gaug said she and her staff are looking forward to moving to their new building for next year, which will be located across from St. Joseph Church on Second Street. The building will give Good Neighbors 9,000 square feet of space to work with.
Gaug said she is looking forward to being in a "permanent home," and sharing it with the families next year.
"I really enjoy working with the people and the families," Gaug said. "It's fun to talk to the parents and even their kids, ask them how school is and what they're looking forward to."
JoAnn Trayern, a volunteer for Good Neighbors for the last 20 years, said she, too, enjoys talking with the families.
"I enjoy volunteering more than anything," Trayern said. "Interacting with the kids and helping the families find their supplies makes me happy."
Good Neighbors is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Christian Church, where donations can be dropped off.
Donations may also be mailed to Cuyahoga Falls Good Neighbors P.O. Box 233, Cuyahoga Falls, 44222.