York County deputies lend a hand with backpack donation (+video)

08/06/2014 6:15 PM

08/07/2014 7:28 AM

When it comes to back-to-school needs, York County sheriff’s deputies have called in backup for local schools.

For the second year, the Sheriff’s Foundation of York County’s “Operation Backup” has donated backpacks and other items to schools in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, York and Clover. On Wednesday, each district received items valued at $2,000. The districts will distribute supplies to families in need.

The mission of “Operation Backup” is to fill a need not always covered by other school supply drives – backpacks. The foundation bought more than 280 backpacks, with as many 10-piece school supply kits.

“If a new backpack is what a student needs to carry everything necessary for the classroom,” Sheriff Bruce Bryant said, “then a backpack is what we’ll give them.”

Each year, Rock Hill schools help an average of 800 students whose families can’t afford to buy supplies, said Serena Williams, the district’s coordinator of community services.

“The need is always great,” Williams said. “We’ve helped as many students as we could.”

Other major events – such as the annual school supply drive sponsored by The Herald, Fort Mill Times, Lake Wylie Pilot and Enquirer-Herald in York and Clover – also help out, she said, as do individual donations.

With school starting this month, her department is ready.

“The community has been very generous,” Williams said.

Clover schools expect more than 500 students to receive some type of assistance this year. Fort Mill schools plan to pack about 450 backpacks. Both districts have distribution events Saturday.

“It’s a tremendous help for our students,” said Marguerite Brown-Canty, a Clover attendance officer, of donations like those from the sheriff’s foundation. “It gives them an opportunity to have a positive start to the school year.”

Despite the generosity of donors, school leaders say needs remain. Every community has challenges, they say, and back-to-school costs mount.

“We absolutely have a community of students who have needs,” said Lynn Ringley, director of the Foundation for Fort Mill Schools. “Going back to school is expensive.”

Each district on Wednesday credited a giving community with keeping those costs manageable.

“The most amazing thing about York County is the community supports the schools,” Ringley said. “This is evident of that.”

Founded in 2006, the Sheriff’s Foundation brings in most of its money through an annual fall golf tournament. To date, the foundation has given about $49,000 in scholarships across the county’s four school districts.

“When we do a project,” Bryant said, “we cover the whole county, because we serve the whole county.”

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