Tools for School is always a large undertaking. It was made even bigger this year amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
With it being a drive-thru, the event went from a two-day event to four days, ending July 24.
Matthew Godfrey and Alessia Bernocco served as Tools for School interns for Merciful HELP Center, a nonprofit enterprise of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Godfrey and Bernocco are Carmel residents and 2017 Guerin Catholic High School graduates. Godfrey attends DePauw University and Bernocco is at the University of Notre Dame.
Godfrey said the program served approximately 1,200 families, with a total of 2,700 students in Hamilton County.
“We were able to get a couple of government grants this year to directly purchase school supplies and clothing,” Bernocco said. “A lot of the other items came from direct donations from parishioners.”
Godfrey said many children in the county need school supplies. Socks, shoes and underwear also were collected.
The coronavirus pandemic required different procedures this year.
“In the past, everything would be set up and the children would be able to go through and choose items,” Bernocco said. “This year, we sent out a preference sheet with our offerings listed on it. They could check off what items they wanted. They would be coming through and we would prepare it for them.”
Godfrey said every child received some of the more basic supplies, like a book bag, folder, notebook, binders, dividers, pencils, pens, erasers and rulers.
“We had a toolbox where you get to select the supplies you wanted,” Godfrey said. “In the toolbox, there were supplies like a dry erase board, scissors, pencil sharpener, protractor and thumb drives. Approximately 1,200 volunteers helped with the process, including support from other Catholic parishes as well as Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church and Orchard Park Presbyterian, all in Carmel.”