As summer begins to wind down, many local families are beginning their back-to-school shopping. Buying the right school supplies can be stressful, but it’s even more taxing when family funds are tight.
This got Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw thinking a few years ago, while volunteering at the Food Bank.
“I saw people there I knew from the school community and I never would have thought they had a need, so I began reaching out because I wanted to do something to help them,” Langshaw said. “I hate to see any kid or family struggle, especially when it comes to buying something like school supplies.”
Now in its eighth year, “Operation NR Cares” is a charitable drive collecting school supplies for those in need in the local school community. Since its inception by Langshaw, the yearly event has helped hundreds of local school children. Last summer, 29 families – or 61 children – started their school year off with fresh supplies thanks to the supply drive, according to information released by Debra Burrows, outreach specialist for the Office on Aging. In 2015, 32 families benefited from the program.
“It’s a good thing that our numbers have gone down, but year to year, you never know whether the need will go up or down,” Burrows said.
The donation wish list includes items like backpacks, dry erase markers, USB flash drives, hand sanitizer, red pens, scissors, Sharpie markers, highlighters, index cards, folders, colored pencils, washable markers, jumbo glue sticks, antibacterial wipes, and wide ruled paper and notebooks. Donations are being collected through August 9 at the Office on Aging and Human Services, the North Royalton Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library, the North Royalton Family YMCA and the Chamber of Commerce.
Year after year, Langshaw is amazed at how quickly the donation bins fill up.

“If anything, I’ve always been amazed by the generosity of our community,” he said. “People in this community really care about giving back and helping one another out.”
To qualify for “Operation NR Cares,” residents in the local school district must fill out an application at the Office on Aging and Human Services, provide proof of residency and show their 2016 income tax to determine level of assistance.
“I remember there was a family we had helped out with Operation NR Cares, and the mom eventually got back on her feet and ended up making her own school supply donation and paying it forward,” Langshaw said. “It’s things like that that show me that this event is making a difference.”
At the conclusion of the supply drive, items will be sorted and picked up at the Office on Aging by the qualifying families. “Operation NR Cares” goes beyond gathering typical supplies like pencils or crayons. The greatest need lies in collecting items like TI-100 calculators, headphones and dry erasers.
“Oftentimes, people don’t realize that each teacher at each grade level requests their own items and it’s really eye-opening to see what each teacher wants from building to building,” Burrows said. “Many different items are always wanted and we do our best to provide what we can.”
Gift cards in increments of $10 or more to school supply stores like Walmart, Target and Discount Drug Mart are also being accepted, along with cash donations and checks made out to the Charitable Fund of North Royalton Kiwanis with “School Supplies” written in the memo portion. These monetary donations should be dropped off only at the Office on Aging and Human Services, located at 13500 Ridge Road.
Langshaw adds that volunteers are also needed to help sort and distribute the collected school supplies. For more information and to help out, contact Langshaw at (440) 785-4240.

Contributing Writer