Sumter Gears Up for Learning with annual school supplies campaign

United Ministries’ goal is to provide supplies for district’s students in need


A local nonprofit ministry organization wants to help all public school students in Sumter County start the new year on the right foot and with necessary school supplies in hand.

Sumter United Ministries kicked off its annual Gear Up for Learning project this week with the goal of collecting enough new paper, pens, pencils and other supplies for all students in need in Sumter School District, according Kathy Hunter of the agency.

The community project has become an annual tradition for United Ministries, and it's asking for churches, organizations and individuals to "be devoted to one another in brotherly love" (Romans 12:10) and get involved, if possible.

Hunter said a great way for churches or organizations to contribute to Gear Up for Learning during the month-long campaign is to sponsor an item from its school supply list of 20-plus items, choosing to purchase all the quantity listed or a portion of the quantity.

After choosing an item to sponsor, groups should contact United Ministries to secure their pledge.

"If an item is already secured, then the group can select a different item, or we could suggest an item that we usually don't have enough of," Hunter said.

Individuals can also purchase new supply items for a child or two.

"We have people who drop off bags of stuff that they just ran to the store and bought," Hunter said. "Everything helps."

Deliveries of newly purchased items can be made any weekday through Monday, Aug. 6, to two drop-off sites in town: Bynum Insurance Agency, 1170 Wilson Hall Road, and United Ministries, 36 Artillery Drive, during regular business hours.

The drop-off deadline would have been the preceding Friday, Hunter said, except for the fact that weekend is tax-free weekend in South Carolina. From Friday, Aug. 3, through Sunday, Aug. 5, the state eliminates all sales taxes on dozens of retail items, including many back-to-school supply items.

People can shop for supplies that weekend and still drop off on Monday at the two sites, Hunter said.

From Aug. 6-10, all collected items will be sorted at the gymnasium at First Baptist Church, 107 E. Liberty St. People can still also deliver purchased supplies that week at First Baptist, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Hunter said United Ministries would love to have all collected items by Tuesday, Aug. 7, so the final three days can be used for organizing the items for each of the district's schools. However, people can still deliver until Friday at noon at the church, she said.

That Friday afternoon, Sumter School District will pick up all the supplies from the church for distribution to all its schools.

Hunter said the agency has had much success with Gear Up for Learning in years past.

"It's a wonderful way the Sumter community comes together to support the kids in need in Sumter," Hunter said. "It's just wonderful."

2018-19 School Supply List

Items must be new. Number shown in parentheses indicates how many of each item is needed. Items listed in italics are generally the hardest to fulfill each year. Supplies need to be at drop-off locations by Monday, Aug. 6. After that, items can also be dropped off Aug. 7-10 at First Baptist Church from 9 a.m. to noon each day.

Crayons (16 or 24 count) (950)

Glue sticks (2,500)

Highlighters (1,150)

Ink pens (black or blue) (4,650)

Loose-leaf notebook paper (college ruled) (1,100 packs)

Loose-leaf notebook paper (wide ruled) (2,200 packs)

3-Ring binders (1,550)

Pencils (lots of pencils! - 25,000)

Large plastic pencil boxes (350)

Primary writing tablets (Ruled for Kindergarten) (350)

Pocket folders (with clasps) (6,600)

Pocket folders (without clasps) (700)

Rulers (400)

Round-tip scissors (950)

Spiral notebooks (college ruled) (1,650)

Composition notebooks (without spirals) (2,200)

Colored pencils (1,000 packs)


White copy paper


Hand sanitizer

Reading books (for kindergarten readers) (250)*

Reading books (for 1st through 3rd grade readers) (400)*

* Books may be gently used