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Community members can obtain school supplies during Gear Up 4 School event in Wilsonville

PMG FILE PHOTO - Local families can receive school supplies for free during Gear Up 4 School event at Grace Chapel 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21.

This story was updated from its original version

Seeing a long line of local families waiting to receive school supplies during the inaugural Gear Up 4 School event in 2018 reaffirmed Heart of the City Director Lyn Whelchel's belief that more Wilsonville families have financial struggles than others might expect.

So to meet the demand in the second annual event, which will take place 9-11 a.m. Wednesday Aug. 21 at the Heart of the City building at 28925 S.W. Boberg Road in Wilsonville, the nonprofit organization run by Grace Chapel is planning to bring more supplies, more volunteers and more activities.

"For the event we think we are doubling if not tripling people because the need is so great," Whelchel said.

At the event, local families can collect school supplies like pencils, notebooks, backpacks and scissors — as well as hygiene products — for free. Heart of the City is also donating special packages of coats, shoes and other items to 60 underprivileged children identified by West Linn-Wilsonville School District councilors. The packages are delivered discreetly.

"There's nothing like kids going to school feeling good about themselves with a good backpack and having the correct school supplies. It's very honoring for the kids to show up like that," Whelchel said.

To collect enough supplies, Heart of the City has placed collection boxes at 20 local businesses and organizations in the community such as South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART), OrePac Building Products and the Wilsonville Public Library. Individuals can also donate directly to Heart of the City at Grace Chapel, 900 S.W. Boeckman Rd.

A couple changes from last year include additional interpreters who can converse with Spanish-speaking families as well as switching from providing haircuts directly on site to giving families vouchers for free haircuts at The Salon Academy in Wilsonville. Whelchel said they switched to the vouchers because haircuts took too long last year.

The event will include bounce houses and a face-painter to entertain children and Heart of the City will also provide breakfast burritos for families at the event.

Heart of the City is seeking volunteers for the event and Whelchel said Wilsonville community members who don't have financial difficulties can benefit from talking with those who do.

"There is something to be said when you can meet people who are in need and have a conversation with them because it opens up your heart a little more and you understand there's people out there who live paycheck to paycheck or live in cars with their family," Whelchel said. "It becomes real and makes you want to get involved more and really help people."

A previous version of this article misreported the location of the Gear Up 4 School event. It is the Heart of the City building on 28925 S.W. Boberg Road in Wilsonville.

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