OXFORD, Ind. (WLFI) - It's not yet May, but Open Hearts Clothing Closet at 402 Vine Street in Oxford is already getting a head start on back to school.
The drive starts April 19th. Open Hearts is asking for school supplies for preschool through high school. The drive is a milestone for the donation center according to founder Brandi Muller. Open Hearts gives away all of their donations.
"This is the first time that we have done a back to school program. We've not really been large enough to do it, we've not had enough volunteers and enough support until the past few months," Muller said.
Anybody who donates a school item will be entered into a raffle for prizes including gift cards to restaurants. Muller says the reason they're starting a back to school drive so soon is to ensure they have as many backpacks and supplies to give away as possible. They hope to give away 200 backpacks with supplies.
"I'm excited, I'm nervous because I want to be able to help so many people, I want to make sure that enough donations come in and that we have the supplies for as many children that need it, you know we don't know if we're going to have 20... we don't know if we're going to have 100," Muller said.
The drive isn't just for children. It's to help take pressure off teachers who spend out of pocket on students, too.
"Then the teachers don't feel so obligated to purchase these items that maybe they can't afford out of their pocket," Muller said.
Teachers like Kayla Brant, a second grade teacher at Boswell Elementary who visits Open Hearts to help students.
"Knowing that those kids come in with the stuff they need makes my job easier, makes their job easier, and then their not scared going in that first day of school," said Brant.
"If they have know that they have the stuff that they need, they're not going to be afraid of what their teachers reaction is going to be or afraid that they're not going to fit in... they have what they need."
And any donation can make a difference.
"It can be a coat, it might be shirts, it might be pants, but knowing that this is here makes my life a whole lot easier knowing somebody is supporting me supporting them," Brant said.
The drive will run until June. Muller hopes to hand out the first backpacks in early August.