South MS sending thousands of school supplies to flood victims

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippians are reaching out to help young flood victims in Vicksburg.  More than 3,000 Vicksburg families were affected by the Mississippi River flooding this past spring. Many parents can't afford to buy school supplies for their children. So those who lived through Katrina are now paying it forward.

On Friday morning, another load of donations arrived at the United Way of South Mississippi office in Gulfport.

"I'm surprised and it kind of warms our heart to know that so many people in the community do want to help children in Vicksburg. So it's a great start," said Hannah Bell, a spokeswoman for the United Way of South Mississippi.

The agency launched the "Pay It Forward School Supplies Drive" last week to help hundreds of families that have lost so much.

"We chose Vicksburg because we felt we had a connection with them with flooding. So many homes here were inundated with water and they're dealing with a lot of the same issues," said Bell. "The United Way of South Mississippi received so much support from other United Ways across the country after Katrina, that this is a way for us to give people in our community a chance to pay it forward."

Volunteers spent Friday morning sorting the donations that came from a dozen drop-off points.

"School supply lists are long, and if people are already struggling just to meet basic needs, then this is one way we could help that," said Bell.

The stacks of donations filled an entire room. The United Way expects to receive at least 2,000 additional school supplies from ten more agencies and businesses across south Mississippi. The donations will be delivered to the United Way of West Central Mississippi next week.

The director of the agency, Barbara Tolliver, said: "The school supplies from South Mississippi are appreciated so much and they will help greatly.  The children who receive these supplies will go back to the first day of class feeling good about themselves and the school year ahead, despite the tragedy that they have faced this summer."

"Kids love school supplies and we really hope that this sends them back to school with a smile," said Bell.

You can still drop off your donated school supplies on Monday. There's a box in front of the Knight Nonprofit Center on Seaway Road in Gulfport.

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