Operation Backup is a chance for county law enforcement to provide back-to-school supplies for local school districts.
For the second year, the Sheriff’s Foundation of York County donated backpacks and other items to school districts in York, Clover, Rock Hill and Fort Mill. On Wednesday, each received $2,000 worth of supplies that school districts will distribute to families in need.
Operation Backup was launched after officials from each district said backpacks are often the one item missing from other school supply drives. The foundation purchased more than 280 backpacks and the same number of 10-piece school supply kits.
“If a new backpack is what a student needs to carry everything necessary for the classroom, then a backpack is what we’ll give them,” Sheriff Bruce Bryant said.
Serena Williams, coordinator of community services with Rock Hill Schools, said her district serves an average of 800 students annually who need supplies.
“The need is always great,” Williams said. “We’ve helped as many students as we could.”
Other major events help, like an annual supply drive sponsored by the Herald and sister papers Fort Mill Times, Lake Wylie Pilot and Enquirer-Herald, she said. As do donations from residents. With school starting soon, Williams said her department is ready.
“The community has been very generous,” Williams said.
Needs aren’t confined to the largest district – Rock Hill. Clover School District expects more than 500 students district-wide to receive some type of assistance this year. The Fort Mill School District plans to pack about 450 backpacks.
“It’s a tremendous help for our students,” Marguerite Brown-Canty, attendance officer in Clover, said of donations like the one Wednesday. “It gives them an opportunity to have a positive start to the school year.”
School leaders say it’s important to convey that there are needs, particularly even in districts where affluence is high or schools are well regarded. Leaders say every community has challenges, and back-to-school costs range from pencils and erasers at the elementary level to sport participation fees in high school.
“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. Partnerships range from the Shutterfly Foundation and others in Fort Mill to Clover Cares and the Roosevelt Community Watch in Clover.
“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 out about $49,000 in scholarships through the county’s four school districts.
“When we do a project we cover the whole county, because we serve the whole county,” Bryant said.