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Community collaboration provides 400 school supply boxes to DeKalb, Sycamore students in need

DeKALB – Because of the efforts of a local school supplies distributor and other area businesses, 400 students in DeKalb and Sycamore received on their first day of classes needed classroom supplies that their families may not have been able to afford.

DeKalb-based School Tool Box, using $15,000 donated by First State Bank and DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac dealership in Sycamore, put together school supply boxes tailored to fit the needs of students in Sycamore School District 427 and DeKalb School District 428.

The boxes will go to economically disadvantaged children, and look like every other school supply box in the classroom, an intentional decision not to be understated, D-428 Superintendent Jamie Craven said.

“That’s huge, the fact that the supplies that are being provided are the same thing our other students who aren’t of need have,” Craven said Wednesday in the lobby of School Tool Box’s plant in DeKalb.

School Tool Box operates in almost every state, but is headquartered in DeKalb. The company compiles boxes of school supplies tailored to each classroom’s needs and ships them directly to the students’ home or school.

Like other School Tool Box packages that are purchased individually by parents or schools and placed on the desk of students who ordered them, the additional 400 boxes that were created through the community fund were ready for students to receive them on the first day of school.

The boxes were split among District 427 and District 428 schools in three categories: kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade and middle school. DeKalb schools received 250 boxes, and Sycamore schools received 150, based on the differing levels of economic need in each district, said Kathy Countryman, District 427 superintendent.

“That’s always one of our goals,” Countryman said. “When kids walk in the first day, you want them to be ready to learn because it’s super important that they can just sit down and be ready to go.”

Countryman and Craven both said boxes will also go to homeless students in their district.

“We kept some in our office because our homeless liaison works in our [district] office,” Countryman said. “Now, it’s way more streamlined for them because it sometimes is a difficult conversation. Now they can go and grab those tools and out they go.”

Doug Stice, president and CEO of School Tool Box, said he wanted his company to be able to help children in need who can’t always pay for everything on a back-to-school list.

Bill Davey, who runs northern operations for First State Bank, said the initiative seemed like a good way to support local children and local businesses.

“Doug’s been our customer for quite some time and he really started this,” Davey said. “I thought it was an excellent idea because it worked with his supplies, he could get them at a reasonable cost, we could help sponsor. It was one of our largest donations of the year.”

Ryan Gilleland, owner of DeKalb Sycamore Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, said it was precisely because the boxes were going to both cities that his company wanted to help.

“It’s great that [Stice] has a local business here and everybody kind of knows each other,” Gilleland said. “And we put it together as a team for both DeKalb and Sycamore, not just one city.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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