MOUNT VERNON — More than 1,000 Knox County children and their families are grateful for receiving free backpacks filled with school supplies, but some families struggling to make ends meet are disappointed that the school clothing vouchers distributed last year are no longer available.
Roger Shooter, director of Knox County Jobs & Family Services, shares that disappointment. He said that last year, the agency had $150,000 to use for school supplies and school clothes for a voucher program administered through a contract with Interchurch Social Services of Knox County. Families in need were able to purchase necessary items at local stores.
“The state’s cut our funding severely and we weren’t able to do the contract this year,” Shooter said. “It’s a darn shame, because I don’t agree with the cuts that were made and the priorities that were taken. We’re just really reeling. I think the community loses a lot when these decisions are made in Columbus.”
ISS executive director Joy Harris shares Shooter’s concerns.
“We were all saddened by the state budget cuts,” she said. “We knew that probably was going to happen, but we also know how difficult it is going to be for people to provide everything their kids need to start school.”
Harris suggested families make use of the local thrift stores.
“Our clients are eligible for free clothing from our thrift stores,” she said. “In addition to that, the prices are very reasonable for everybody. The trick with the thrift store is to check it often, because what’s available changes every day.”