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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -
Thousands of school supplies are on their way to children in Marathon County.
A program through the United Way spends months collecting those supplies for families who can't afford to buy them.
The "Fill-A-Backpack Fill-A-Need" program aims to help eliminate the amount of children showing up empty handed on the first day of school.
"It's not fair to the child to come to school without the right tools on the first day and so when they have a new backpack and the required supplies they're ready to start on the same playing field with all of the others," said Shelly Kaiser, United Way of Marathon County Volunteer Director.
About 80 volunteers each day are working around the clock organizing all the donations collected.
"Sharpeners, erasers, pens, pencils compasses, crayons and markers for younger kids, notebooks and folders," said Goldezong Moun, volunteer.
Students are eligible for the school supplies if they qualify for free lunches in school.
Officials say about 30% of students in every Marathon County classroom are eligible.
"Quite frankly when our schools expect these school supplies they're considering them basic necessities, and for some families that's asking a lot," added Kaiser.
United Way leaders say they frequently hear families talk about having to skip paying bills just to afford school supplies.
"School supplies number one aren't inexpensive, and so for a family with a very limited budget that has to come up with something extra at this time that means there's less food in the cupboards, or maybe a utility bill is lapse for a little bit," Kaiser said.
Last year, officials say students lined up with their families hours in advance waiting to receive the supplies.
"They don't have a lot of options because the school supplies are pre-packed, but they do get to pick out the style and the color of their backpack, and for some that's a real big deal," Kaiser added.
The school supplies will be handed out on August 17th at the National Guard Armory in Wausau.
If you would like to help or donate supplies visit:
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