Newton Falls –  It’s that time of year again when kids are wrapping up the last days of warm-weather relaxation and trying to pack in as much fun as they can before the classroom bell calls them from their playtime daydreams. That time of year when parents are wrapping up the required shopping list checkmarks and figuring out how to pack it all into a book bag or lunch tote – and still miraculously leave room for all those heavy homework texts. Which means it’s also that time of year when the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child” comes to life as community members come together to help these school kids start off their studies with all the supplies they need to have that best chance to succeed.

As part of the local effort to Fill-a-Cruiser, the Newton Falls Firefighters’ Association and the Firefighters’ Auxiliary combined resources with personal contributions from individual members to donate $250 worth of notepads, composition books, binders, pencil sharpeners, art supplies and other classroom essentials to students who may not have access to such necessities this coming school year. Instead of traveling out of the area to a big box store for their shopping trip, the Station 43 crew decided to keep their dollars in the 44444 and patronized the local Dollar General to support the small town economy efforts even further. Then, on Saturday morning with the fire engine loaded, first-responders Ben Kittle, Bill Szymanski and Ryan Shaulis arrived at the parking lot of Family Dollar to surprise Officer Sheri Bailey who was spearheading the Fill-a-Cruiser day.

The bags of educational items helped expand the pile already in the back of Officer Bailey’s patrol car, those being given by officers of the police department, the school’s local SMASH representatives, and other generous townspeople. The continued support from the community was evident as well, as while the fire engine was being unloaded, several customers straight from the Family Dollar doors handed the officers bags filled with freshly-purchased contributions to the cause.

All donations remain local, benefitting the K-12 students of the Newton Falls district. Officer Bailey mentioned having the extra supplies available will allow them to be distributed throughout the year, continuing to help students even after the back-to-school rush is over. Around test time is especially important as the last thing kids need when they’re trying to prepare for a test is the stress of not having the necessary supplies to do their work. Being able to visit Officer Bailey’s office at the school means they won’t have to worry about being unprepared for the lack of an appropriate pencil.

If readers missed the Fill-a-Cruiser event and would still like to help out with the ongoing efforts, donations are always gratefully accepted and can be dropped off at the NFPD station.