On July 30, families in York County and surrounding counties will be able to get free school supplies, sneakers, haircuts and family portraits through an event held by the Youth Impact Project.

The Youth Impact Project was started in 2014 after recognizing that impoverished families in southcentral Pennsylvania weren't getting the assistance they needed when their kids were heading back to school. Each year since, the group has teamed up with local churches, businesses and organizations to host the event, which serves more than 2,500 families, according to Executive Director Ken Landis.

The Youth Impact Project has partnered with Northern York County School District for the last three years for the event. Vangie Unti, the supervisor of administrative services for the district, said the event shows the district coming together for good.

"Northern York County School District is proud to partner with the Youth Impact Project for the third year in a row to provide basic necessities to families right here in our community," Unti said. "With over 400 volunteers working together, this incredible event highlights our district's commitment to civic engagement and helping those in need."

The event is open to families in Adams, Cumberland, Perry and York counties, and Landis said that they truly see kids from school districts all throughout southcentral Pennsylvania.

Supplies from notebooks and backpacks to peanut butter and toothpaste are collected by local businesses and churches throughout the year. Other organizations and businesses raise funds for the Youth Impact Project to purchase supplies themselves. Landis said the organization tries to purchase most of the supplies in the fall, when the back-to-school sales are going on, and save them to distribute the following year.

Families who participate go through a series of tents, Landis said. The first tent has kids' backpacks and school supplies in it, and from there they will go to a second tent to get a brand-new pair of sneakers for the school year. Another tent, run by Lush 317 Hair Design, offers kids a back-to-school haircut. Families can visit a tent run by Leer Photography for family portraits. Finally, each family that attends can get two bags of groceries, which include canned goods, fresh vegetables and toiletries.

The event starts at 8 a.m. July 30 and usually wraps up between 2 and 4 p.m., Landis said; it all depends on when the tents run out of supplies.

Those looking to help out can visit the Youth Impact Project's website and donate to the cause for last-minute supplies or for supplies for next year's event, or they can check the volunteer opportunities still available in the different tents.

Landis said the event, which will take place in the Northern York School Complex, 653 S. Baltimore St. in Dillsburg, really shows how willing different parts of the community are to work together and help out families in need. Landis also said that every single person involved is a volunteer, which means that all donations are a "pure give" and won't go to someone's salary or anything other than the families in need.

"This isn't going to fix poverty," Landis said. "For a lot of these kids, it's not their fault they're in poverty. We're trying to inspire these kids and let them know that education really matters."

Read or Share this story: