Combined Community Services (CCS) will hold their annual Tools for School event on Aug. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds to provide essential back-to-school supplies to students in Kosciusko County.

CCS has partnered with many local organizations to be able to serve families at this one-day event, according to a news release from CCS.

“We have had many wonderful partners through the years,” says Ami Pitt, Project Independence case manager and Hand-Up case manager at CCS. “The Kosciusko County Fairboard has generously donated the Home and Family Arts Building every year for the last 27 years! Since coming to Warsaw, Meijer has been our biggest supporter and has a heart for the children of Kosciusko County. Many grants are given by numerous organizations such as the Morning Optimist, Warsaw Community Church, Indiana Farm Bureau of Kosciusko County and Teachers Credit Union. Those grant dollars help purchase new backpacks and school uniforms.

“Our county really comes together and takes care of our kids from all local school systems! Wawasee, Whitko, Tippecanoe Valley, homeschool and Warsaw are all represented at the event. Warsaw Schools has committed to be at the Tools For School Event with the STEM bus and they as well as Tippecanoe Valley will be registering kids for school. In the Community Information Room there will be lots of information tables to let families know of the numerous programs and help for families and children in our county, and WRSW will continue to broadcast live from this event. Year after year we have seen our community come together and provide for the over 1,000 students that are equipped through this event and we are so very grateful!” Pitt said.

The mission of CCS is to provide comfort, hope and resources for neighbors in need. The nonprofit exists to help people in the community with emergency needs for food, clothing and utilities. CCS also offers programs designed to lead families to economic self-sufficiency.

Continuing this event annually has given CCS a way to meet families and Kosciusko County school needs when it comes to helping students feel prepared as they head to school in the fall.

The Huntington Backpack Index, an annual barometer of school-supply and related expenses, developed in collaboration with Communities In Schools, a national nonprofit supporting at-risk students in K-12 public schools, estimated what parents could expect to pay this year per child, according to the news release:

- $1,017 for elementary school supplies, extracurricular fees and technology

- $1,277 for middle school supplies, extracurricular fees and technology

- $1,668 for high school supplies, extracurricular fees and technology

“When you’re talking about, even at a low end, $1,000 out of pocket, for really any family it’s quite an expense, and if you think about our families who are living at the poverty line or below, this is really significant,” said Randy Polston, executive director at CCS. “Many families are not single-child households. They have multiple children, so compound that cost by two, three, or four kids spanning across K through 12, you’re talking about a couple of mortgage or rent payments potentially, and money that would otherwise pay for food or to pay the electric bill.”

For students whose families cannot afford supplies, coming to school unprepared can create social and emotional challenges, in addition to putting kids at a disadvantage for learning.

CCS is still in need of school supply donations and financial support. These can be dropped off at CCS, 1195 Mariners Drive, Warsaw; Indiana Farm Bureau, 2104 N. Biomet Drive, Warsaw; or the Kosciusko County Chamber, 313 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw, by Aug. 1.

Donations accepted via ccsgives.com

Community organizations with services for Kosciusko students K-12 grade and families may reserve a booth at https://forms.gle/KZGrYN7rCKBG4phG8

For more information, contact Ami Pitt at 574-797-0208.