School Supply Train

Elizabeth Tennant and other volunteers pick out backpacks full of school supplies for qualifying students in August 2019 at the Junior League of Longview’s School Supply Train at the First Baptist Church of Longview’s ROC. Students wishing to pick up supplies this year need to preregister for the event no later than this Friday. To preregister, call Buckner Children and Family Services at (903) 757-9383 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Les Hassell/News-Journal File Photo)

The Junior League of Longview has adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic this year by planning its annual School Supply Train earlier, using Buckner Children and Family Services to preregister children and adding supplies to protect students from getting the novel coronavirus.

Families must preregister their children from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. this week at Buckner by calling (903) 757-9383, according to the Junior League’s website.

The giveaway that features a backpack filled with school supplies is open to eligible children attending public schools from preschool to 12th grade and will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 1 at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Complex, 100 Grand Blvd., Longview.

School Supply Train chairwoman Stacia Shoults said Junior League members started making plans for the event, now in its 27th year, in February instead of during late spring. The new coronavirus has been a factor.

“We had a difficult time planning it this year because we wanted to make it stay safe,” Shoults said. She said she finalized the supplies and backpack list in late May.

Shoults said the event might be more challenging this year with COVID-19 triggering job losses and other hardships for parents.

Shoults said the Junior League, which is made up of 100 or more women ages 20 and older, decided to use preregistration for the first time to have better control during the event.

The Junior League is delegating preregistration to Buckner because the faith-based nonprofit entity has experience dealing with matters such as income requirements, Shoults said.

Shoults said the Junior League handed out 2,000 backpacks a year ago and expects to distribute the same number for this year’s event.

All the backpacks will be full and contain supplies that are age appropriate, Shoults said. For instance, backpacks for younger children might contain crayons, while older students might receive binders and notebook paper.

Backpacks for high school students will have face masks “just in case they are needed,” Shoults said. “We are adding a (hand) sanitizer in every backpack this year. That is new.”

Junior League members will pack the backpacks this month at First Baptist Church, which will supply one school uniform shirt for the children, Shoults said. She said volunteers will wear face masks and gloves while doing the packing.

The Junior League has helped to pay for School Supply Train with fundraisers such as its Bargain Box store and charity ball, Shoults said.

She said the Junior League is continuing to accept donations, which can be made at jllongview.org .