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C.A.C.T.U.S provides 22 years of school supplies


On Aug. 8 and 9, Community and Children Teaming Up 4 Success (C.A.C.T.U.S.) will be hosting a school supply distribution for Pettis County students behind Convention Hall at Liberty Park. 

C.A.C.T.U.S. was started in August 2000 by Linda Mackesty in memory of her granddaughter Kayla Adkins. Adkins lost her life on July 31, 1999, in a bicycle accident when she was 9. 

In 2003, C.A.C.T.U.S. became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. 

C.A.C.T.U.S. Coordinator Mary Jo Sartin said the organization, which is operated solely by volunteers, provides free backpacks and school supplies for all Pettis County students. 

“Any student who lives in Pettis County or goes to school in Pettis County,” Sartin added. “So we serve Sedalia, Green Ridge, Dresden, La Monte, Smithton and Northwest. We also have several Cole Camp students who live in our county but go to school in Cole Camp.”

C.A.C.T.U.S. will be doing its normal distribution with school supplies dependent on the age range. 

“We pack for K through two, three through five, six through nine and 10 through 12,” Sartin said. “So we pack four different types of backpacks.”

The younger children will have items like crayons and markers, while the older ones will have index cards, paper spirals, and notebooks. All the basic school supplies. 

All of the supplies are provided from funding from United Way of Pettis County, local businesses, churches, organizations, and individuals. This can come as monetary donations or supply donations. 

Sartin said organizers are projecting to give out somewhere between 1,500 to 1,700 backpacks. 

If the organization has any backpacks left over, they are stored for the next year.

“During the school year, we deliver supplies to schools…” Sartin said. “When kids run out of things or need new backpacks. They’ll contact us and we’ll take supplies to the school throughout the year.”

There are no requirements to receive a backpack; the only thing asked is that parents or guardians fill out a form to bring to the distribution. This form can be found at www.sedaliacactus.org, Open Door, Salvation Army and more. The organization will also provide forms during the distribution.

When families come through the distribution line, there will be other organizations present to provide clothing vouchers for the Open Door Thrift Store and some other free items. 

Once a family comes to distribution, they can pick what backpack they want for each child. Most of the backpacks picked by the family are based on the student's favorite color, design and etc. 

C.A.C.T.U.S. has between 75 to 100 volunteers to help with distribution, but the organization is still looking for more volunteers. 

On Aug. 8, distribution will be from 4 to 5 p.m. for last names beginning with A through C and from 5 to 6 p.m. for last names D through G. On Aug. 9, distribution will be from 10 to 11 a.m. for H through K, from 11 a.m. to noon for L through O, from 1 to 2 p.m. for P through S, from 2 to 3 p.m. for T through Z and from 4 to 6 p.m. for families not able to make their allotted time. 

The pick-up is based on the last name of the parent and families are asked to not arrive before starting time.