Students in the Dumas Independent School District return to school August 11. Their counterparts in Sunray begin classes August 13. For parents, the beginning of the new school year means purchasing school supplies for each of their school-aged children. The supplies are not cheap, especially for families with multiple children attending school. This year, many families are struggling with the additional financial stresses brought about by the Covid-19 health crisis. "We have a lot of lower-income families who have really been hard hit by it," said Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center of Dumas Executive Director Monica Sullivan Friday as she and her staff, with help from coach Brittani James' Dumas High School girls volleyball team, were preparing school supplies to be presented to families in need at Care Net's annual school supply give-away event.
This year's event takes place Tuesday, August 4, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the Moore County Community Building at East 16th Street and Maddox Avenue in Dumas. Because of the COVID health crisis, procedures have been modified from those of previous years. Sullivan asks that everyone planning to attend enter the parking lot from the south side, drive north across the lot, and remain in their vehicle. A Care Net staffer or volunteer will be on hand to meet them, take the necessary information, and bring out the supplies. Sullivan says that the contact person from each family must wear a mask. In addition, all children who are receiving supplies have to be present. Once people receive their supplies, they should exit the parking lot to the north.
Sullivan said Care Net began giving away school supplies when she and her colleagues started noticing what a burden purchasing them was for many low-income families. The events have grown steadily over the years, and community support for them has been strong. This year, however, she said she was afraid that the COVID crisis might get in the way, but Valero, JBS, the United Way, and 69th Judicial District Attorney David Green, among others, came through with enough monetary and material donations to make it happen. Sullivan said she was particularly grateful for the help of the volleyball girls. "This is a big job to do, so I am glad they are here to help. They have helped me tremendously these last few days."
The rewards for those helping are great. Brooklyn Berryman is a senior at Dumas High School. This is not her first year to help; Monica Sullivan is her mother. "Giving out school supplies to little kids who can't afford it means a lot to me. … I like seeing kids get ready for school, because I think school is important. Little kids get really excited when they are younger about getting school supplies. … Before school, getting them ready is exciting, and it is the right thing to do."