This year, teams from the Stephenville First United Methodist Women (FUMW) spent nearly $1,500 buying more than 1,700 items that filled about ten baskets at the local Wal-Mart.

For 20 years, the group has raised money to buy school supplies and assembled kits for area students. This year, for the first time, they will distribute them, as well.

According to the organization’s local president, Jennifer Muncey, the group started in March with a baked potato sale. They bought, washed, cooked, sold, and delivered nearly 1,000 baked potatoes to help raise money to buy the supplies that go into the kits. This year, financial help also came from the First Presbyterian Church.

The kits will be distributed for early childhood classes through sixth grade for Dublin and Stephenville students. Students must be pre-registered through the church and have already completed forms and documentation to be eligible for a kit.

The 55-member group range in age from 20 to 90, Muncey said, and is composed of five different circles that serve as teams for this project. FUMW’s main focus is mission work; from around the world to around the corner, they focus on helping others and sharing their faith.

Using funds raised by the baked potato sale along with donations, teams went to Wal-Mart to buy the supplies.

“It was neat to see how the employees came to help us check out,” Muncey said. “Here we were with ten baskets all filled to the brim.”

The items were enough to make eight kits per grade for 16 grades, which were assembled by other teams.

“Jill has been instrumental in helping get ready for Distribution Day,” Muncey said, referring to Jill Scott, who works for H.O.P.E., Inc. The distribution has been H.O.P.E.’s responsibility in years past, but this year the women wanted to see this project all the way through.

So, from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, in conjunction with the First Presbyterian Church, FUMW will host “Distribution Day” to hand out the school supply kits. Students and parents can pick up their kits and get other important back-to-school information at the church, located on 422 W. Washington. Muncey also said there would be paper, notebooks, pencils, and pens for high school and junior high school students who pre-registered.

Booths will be set up with information about the two churches, pamphlets about vaccines students need and where to get them, listings for English as a second language (ESL) classes taught at the Methodist Church two nights a week, and forms and information about the TreeHouse Program.

There will also be a pediatrician on hand to answer any healthcare questions and make referrals, as well as a nutritionist to discuss healthy snacks and foods for growing minds and bodies.

FUMW hope this will be the first of many years they distribute the school supply kits. Muncey said in the future the group hopes to expand the project to include junior high school and high school students, but help would be needed to accomplish this goal. She said FUMW would be happy to hear from other churches or organizations interested in helping with next year’s school supply kits.

For more information, contact the First United Methodist Church at (254)-965-5046.