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Nearly 700 people took advantage of a free backpack and school supply giveaway Saturday at Farquhar Park in York City.

It was the seventh time local chapters of Social Friendship Lodge and Sigma Gamma Rho organized the event, according to Douglas Smallwood, a member of the lodge.

“Unfortunately, we had more people than we could serve,” he said. “In past years, we’ve served up to 300, 400 people. This year we’ve served close to 600 people, so it continues to grow. The need is obvious in our community.”

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York City School District spokeswoman Erin James said students need backpacks in particular because it’s a walking district. Students also need pens, pencils and a few age-appropriate supplies, such as notebooks, she said.

“We don’t expect parents to go out and spend a lot of money on school supplies,” she said.

James said district officials “do what we have to do” to ensure basic school-supply needs are met.

That includes reaching out to community partners, she said.

City schools have longstanding relationships with churches and community groups that ensure schoolkids have basic supplies, according to James, who said the district itself has similar relationships.

For example, she said, Temple Beth Israel for a number of years has provided school supplies to every student at Goode K-8.

The school is named for Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, a lieutenant in the Army during World War II. He was one of the legendary Four Chaplains, who gave their lives to save the lives of other soldiers when their military ship sank.

Barbara Weaver, of York City, attended the Farquhar Park giveaway to pick up supplies for her son and grandchildren.

She said they arrived at noon and waited in line for about 45 minutes.

Solita Day, a member of Sigma Gamma Rho, said the giveaway wasn’t supposed to start until noon, but the line began forming at 10:30 a.m. “so we started at 11:30 handing out the book bags.”

Most of the backpacks were gone by 1 p.m., Smallwood said. “Fortunately, we had some additional supplies that we could give in plastic bags or just hand them out to students without the book bag, which helped us to serve probably an additional 75 to 100 students.

“It was a successful day,” he added. “The only thing that we regret is that we weren’t able to serve everybody that showed up.”

Smallwood said Social Friendship Lodge and Sigma Gamma Rho hope to double the size of the event next year.

“That will be our goal,” he said. “We just hope that other people in the community recognize that there is a need and that they continue to do what they can to assist those in need.”

Bethel Commandment Church at 1000 S. Queen St. also has been collecting school supplies and will host a giveaway from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, at the church. Adults must have children with them to receive supplies, according to the oganizers.

— York Dispatch reporter Elizabeth Evans Scolforo and photographer Dawn J. Sagert contributed to this report.

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