By Pureterrah Witcher
Three hundred empty bags were stuffed with school supplies Wednesday for some of the county's most disadvantaged children.
The initiative, organized by the Clayton County District Attorney's and Solicitor General's offices, is an easy way that locals -- from non-violent offenders, to municipal judges -- can give back.
Even as donations continued to pour in, youths from the Georgia Teen Work Program filled the bags with pencils, pens, paper, glue, crayons, markers, rulers, erasers and other supplies, all collected from local donors, including Pre-Trial Intervention and Diversion Program participants, county officials, churches, and residents.
"We sent out an e-mail to the entire Clayton County, asking for their donations," said Tasha Mosley, Clayton County Solicitor General. "We really wanted to get everyone involved."
Among the groups that contributed to the drive were participants in the Clayton County Pre-Trial and Diversion Program, made up of non-violent, first-time offenders. As a condition of their participation in the diversion program, offenders must volunteer, or work on public service projects, such as the school-supply drive. Successful completion of the program results in the charge against them being dismissed, according to the Solicitor General's web site.
"We've reached out to everyone, and that includes our Pre-Trial program participants," Mosley said. "I'm so pleased with the response. In such a short period of time. so many donations have come in. It's amazing."
Although the supply drive started in early June, Mosley said that it reached its goal of 300 bags just about five weeks later, in the second week of July.
District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, and Mosley, will distribute the bags to the students on the courthouse steps, on July 31.
About 100 bags will go to children from the Kinship Care Program, a program that assists grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Fifty will be given to students from the Divine Faith Church, while the remainder will be delivered to families living in local shelters -- Securus House and Rainbow House, according to Mosley.
In addition to supplies, the students will also receive literature from both the Solicitor General's and DA's offices about age-appropriate topics, such as "sexting" and bullying.
Lawson added that the purpose of the initiative is to enhance justice and public safety by keeping non-violent offenders involved in their community as much as possible.
"This is another wonderful opportunity for people in the Pre-Trial Intervention Program to serve," she said. "They are able to give back to the community by helping the children of the community. It's really a win-win situation."