Students in Douglas County are prepared for school thanks to the help of the community

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Mo. Parents will spend about $700, mostly on supplies, to get their kids ready for school according to the National Retail Federation.

Families in Douglas County had the burden of that cost lifted thanks The Ava School Supply Project.

"It takes a whole community to do this. I'm blessed by the generosity of our community every year," said Lacey Wallace.

She's been part of the team who's organized the school supply drive for the past 10 years.

"There's lots of struggling families and so that's what sparked that first year just wanting to provide for those students that would come to school unprepared," she said.

Ben Winterton's family was one of them.

"I was thinking we were going to get 150 sheets of paper and a box of pencils and that was it. At that point anything was better than nothing. We walked away with absolutely everything she needed," he said.

The effort has grown from two to more than 60 sponsors, including a local communications company that covers school supply drives across the country.

"We believe in kids and the students and the teachers and the administrators and faculty that invest in them. It's just a part of who Russell Cellular is and what we believe in," said Ron Wallace, Employee and Community Outreach Advocate for Russell Cellular

The project started 10 years ago. About 50 students got the supplies they needed then.

Now, more than a thousand kids will start their school year off prepared.

"It has encouraged and inspired other people in our community, other businesses in our community to get involved and honestly, just invest back into the families of Ava and the surrounding areas," said Ron Wallace.

Winterton now works for the communications company and was on hand to help distribute supplies.

"To know that it's helping everybody in our community is just overwhelming because I've been helped by it. It's an awesome experience just to be on both sides of the coin," he said.

Lacy Wallace said, "You see the people that come through, that's why there's no plans to stop, it's because there's a great need."

Any leftover supplies will be given to teachers to use throughout the school year.