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C.A.C.T.U.S. to host school supply distribution event

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Community and Children Teaming Up 4 Success has scheduled its annual back-to-school supply distribution event for Aug. 9-10 behind Convention Hall at Liberty Park.

C.A.C.T.U.S. is a local, volunteer-based nonprofit organization partnered with the United Way of Pettis County. Each year, C.A.C.T.U.S. distributes school supplies to students through the back-to-school event and supplies donations to Pettis County schools. The organization relies on both monetary and direct school supply donations from businesses, organizations, individuals, churches, and the Festival of Sharing to support its mission.  

At the back-to-school event, any student kindergarten through 12th grade who goes to school in or lives in Pettis County is eligible for the free school supplies. The type of school supplies, and the style of backpack they will be delivered in, will depend on the age of the student. 

On Aug. 10, clothing vouchers will be given out by Open Door, free books will be given to preschoolers and other organizations will be out helping and providing for the community. 

C.A.C.T.U.S. Coordinator Mary Jo Sartin explained why the organization hosts this event for the community. 

“Back to school is a really stressful time for some families that are just making it (because) they make it to the beginning of school with school supplies needed, and haircuts, often new shoes and new clothes,” Sartin said. “By giving them the supplies, we can relieve part of that stress on the financial aspect of the families.”

Continuing from last year, distribution will be drive-thru to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Volunteers will wear masks as a preventive measure, however, guests are not required to wear one. 

Due to the drive-thru distribution, registration can be done before or during pick-up. Registration is available on-site, online or at local agencies. 

Sartin stated on average C.A.C.T.U.S. has usually served about 1,800 people each year since beginning in 2000, however, they only served about 1,400 people last year. Sartin stated she assumes it was due to the new changes in distribution methods and the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sartin hopes more people will participate this year. She also hopes people realize that a wide range of people utilize the service and that there are no restrictions on who can receive the supplies. 

“We have families who are in lots of situations,” Sartin said. “We have single parents who need the extra help, parents that don’t usually have to ask for help but maybe they have had a stressful year because of COVID-19 with loss of jobs or cutbacks or medical issues, grandparents who are raising grandkids on a limited social security income and once in a while we will have emancipated youth.”

Without community contribution and donations, C.A.C.T.U.S. would not be able to help these individuals.  

“We are very, very thankful for the community that supports us so well so that we can continue to help the students in our county,” Sartin said. 

Supplies will be picked up at the following times based on the last name of the parent: 

A-C arrives on Monday, Aug. 9 between 4-5 p.m.              

D-G arrives on Monday, Aug. 9 between 5-6 p.m.            

H-K arrives on Tuesday, Aug. 10 between 10-11 a.m.       

L-O arrives on Tuesday, Aug. 10 between 11-noon

P-S arrives on Tuesday, Aug. 10 between 1-2 p.m.

T-Z arrives on Tuesday, Aug. 10 between 2-3 p.m.

Anyone – Tuesday, Aug. 10 between 4-6 p.m.

Monetary donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 1766 Sedalia, Mo., and supply donations can be made by calling 660-827-0263. To sign up to volunteer, visit sedaliacactus.org.

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