Molalla Elementary keeps the school supply list short and joins with the community in a campaign to make supplies available for needy families.

Store shelves are already teeming with pencils, binders and glue sticks. The smell of crayons is practically wafting through the aisles. And kids are eyeing the perfect backpack. But some families can't afford to fill their carts with school supplies.

STOCK PHOTO - Molalla Elementary counselor Robin Bergin wrote letters to chamber members last year and received enough donations to provide supplies for this year as well.

While the list may seem long and costly to some, the Molalla Elementary School staff has tried to keep that list as short as possible.

"Each year, we evaluate what's listed on our supply list for each grade level, what's actually used, and ways to minimize the costs to families," said Frank Luzaich, Molalla Elementary principal, in an email.

But when that list still proves too long, the school offers another option. Molalla Elementary counselor Robin Bergin organizes a program to provide free backpacks filled with school supplies. The campaign is in its fourth year.

"Each year, nearly half of our MES students come to school, receive a free backpack, and then go to stations in our gym to pick out their specific school supplies," Luzaich said. "Robin does an amazing job with this program."

Last summer, Bergin wrote letters to all of the members of the chamber of commerce seeking donations.

"We were able to get enough donations that it got us through last year, and I have enough for this year," Bergin said. So instead of sending requests for donations again this year, Bergin sent thank-you letters instead, thanking the businesses for their generosity.

"We are really, really grateful for the community support," Bergin said.

She added, "Families are really relying on this as a way of helping the budget."

The program is by invitation for families who experience financial hardship. Bergin is planning to provide supplies for about 30 students per grade level.

The distribution of supplies will take place at the end of August. Families in need are encouraged to call Bergin at 503-759-7585.

The school supply list for the 2017-2018 academic year is available online at

Kristen Wohlers
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