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Register now for Back to School event

June 27, 2018
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

For the first time, a Back to School event will be held in Lehigh Acres to help students entering kindergarten through 12th grade with a free backpack and school supplies.

Lehigh Community Services Executive Director Carolyn Peplow said although in years past they have helped their clients by providing them with a backpack and school supplies, this is the first year they are having a physical event.

"We are trying to create an actual event to make it an annual event every year," Peplow said.

Lehigh Community Services is partnering with M.E.O.W. Inc., New Life Assembly of God, Faith Lutheran Church, Christ United Methodist Church, Landex, General & Implant Dentistry of Lehigh and Modern Woodmen for the Back to School event.

Peplow said since they are providing free backpacks and school supplies for K-12 Lehigh residents, preregistration is required. Registration can be done at Lehigh Community Services, 201 Plaza Drive, Suite 3 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. now through July 11. Parents are asked to bring their child's birth certificate, or proof of guardianship/custody to register.

The Back to School event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at New Life Assembly, 5146 Leonard Blvd.

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"There will be food and fun things to do," Peplow said.

This year marks 40 years that Lehigh Community Services has provided assistance to Lehigh Acres residents. Seven of those years have been spent at its current location, 201 Plaza Drive, Suite 103.

Over those four decades, Peplow said they have seen a lot of growth.

On average, the pantry serves 30 to 50 families each day and about 950 to 1,000 individuals a month.

Last year the pantry saw in an influx of people following Hurricane Irma in September and October.

"September and October was rough," Peplow said. "Throughout the hurricane we had a big truck distribution."

She said they served 400 families in just one day following the hurricane.

"We see an increase every year. Not huge, but we do see a steady increase," Peplow said. "We add new people every time we open the pantry. People that pass the need and stop coming. We have a lot of people that do come back."

Currently their wish list consists of peanut butter and jelly, pasta and pasta sauce, dried beans, cereal and canned meat. Donations can be dropped off at Lehigh Community Services from 9 a.m. to noon. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Those who are in need of assistance must live in Lehigh Acres. To receive assistance they need to bring a photo ID, proof they live in Lehigh, as well as fill out a short application. The pantry is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Assistance, Peplow said, is provided every 45 days and can be obtained the same day an application is filled out.

"We share with them the additional pantries in the community," she said to make sure they have enough food. "We stay current on the mobile food pantry."

Peplow said they create bags for those in need of assistance.

"We gauge it on the number of individuals in the family," she explained, which includes a basic bag for one, or two people. "If there are more people we add to it."

On average about $50 to $75 is spent on each family.

"That is our value, not what it would cost at the store," Peplow said.

For more information about the Back to School event, or Lehigh Community Services, call (239) 369-5818.



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