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Education Minnesota makes donation to Willmar Schools

Steven Brisendine unloads items Monday at Jefferson Learning Center in Willmar from Tammy Knapper’s vehicle as she drops off numerous boxes and bags of school supplies donated by Education Minnesota members. Tribune photo by Gary Miller .

WILLMAR — School supplies for kids in the Willmar Public Schools will come from across the state this fall.

On Monday Tammy Knapper, president of the Willmar chapter of Education Minnesota, dropped off numerous boxes and bags of school supplies donated by union members at their annual summer seminar.

The union chooses a school district to receive the seminar donations each year. This year, it's Willmar.

Those at the seminar who didn't donate supplies donated money, which Knapper used to buy more supplies in Willmar.

The notebooks, glue sticks, pencils and other supplies donated by union members will help add to the supplies received from the United Way Stuff the Bus campaign, which concluded last Friday.

Christine Hilbert, who works with the Willmar Child Guide program, said the program had received supplies from United Way on Monday, too.

The cost for everything on a school supply list can mount, Hilbert said, and "depending on the (number of) kids, it can get very expensive."

Last year, the child guides helped 491 students with their school supply needs.

Child guides are in the schools to help children with whatever they need. In addition to helping with school supplies, they provide a variety of assistance to students in the district. Their work includes finding donations of hats and mittens in the winter, organizing volunteers to read with children and helping kids get involved in school activities.

The Education Minnesota supplies will be a big help, she said, as the need for school supplies will continue through the school year.

In addition to United Way, the guides usually receive back-to-school donations from service clubs and individuals in the area.

Before school starts, teachers can go through the donated supplies with a list of their students and what they will need.

Hilbert said they try to keep track of the children they help and what they receive, "so we can make sure it's distributed fairly." It also makes it easier for them to tell people what was done with their donations.

"We try to make sure kids who really need supplies get what they need," she said, but they don't try to provide every item on each child's list. If a child got a backpack the year before, the guides ask if they can use it again, for example.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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