Children enrolled in the Denton school district still have an opportunity to register for back-to-school assistance through the Apple Tree Project.
Ann Pape, event coordinator, said applications are being accepted through early July. Each year the Apple Tree Project, spearheaded by Denton’s Interfaith Ministries, provides a full set of school supplies, two sets of school clothes or uniforms, a new backpack and a $25 gift card for shoes to schoolchildren who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program prior to the start of the school year.
Pape said organizers hope to assist 1,400 pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade schoolchildren this year. Those interested in participating can do so by visiting one of several Apple Tree partner locations listed on the Interfaith Ministries website, www.ifmdenton.org.
Through grants, contributions and donations from local businesses, organizations and individuals, Interfaith Ministries purchases school supplies, backpacks and shoe gift cards in bulk for registered Apple Tree Project children, Pape said.
“It is very important that we support the children through their education process,” she said. “We believe that by supporting children through their early and secondary education, they’ll have better success in life. Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.
“Being prepared and equipped for school is a very important part of that success. Having adequate school supplies, shoes that fit, clothes that fit ... adds to children’s motivation and self-esteem and overall preparedness for their education.”
Supplies are slated for distribution Aug. 11 at First United Methodist Church of Denton.
Registration began in April, and so far more than 1,300 applications for assistance have been submitted, Pape said.
School district officials have said an estimated 41 percent of the district’s nearly 25,000 students are considered economically disadvantaged.
According to the 2011-12 McKinney-Vento report shared with school board members at a June 12 meeting, 912 children enrolled in the district are classified as homeless. District officials have said students can be classified as homeless if they live in unstable home environments — for instance, if they live in a shelter, motel or are sharing the homes of others because of their families losing their homes or economic hardship.
As the number of economically disadvantaged students grows, so has the number of contributors to the Apple Tree Project, said Sharon Cox, district spokeswoman and an Apple Tree Project board member.
“It’s so important,” she said. “It’s so beneficial to our students to have a caring and compassionate community.
“I think it’s critical for all students to start their first day of school in a positive situation, and one of the greatest things we can give our students in need is adequate school supplies and adequate clothes to wear so they can be successful in school.”
For more information, call 940-566-5927.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.