Photo by Heather Middleton
By Kathy Jefcoats
College student Jurod James said he remembers when he was in school growing up, there was always a kid who needed something from his classmates -- a No. 2 pencil or stack of wide-ruled notebook paper.
Memories like that are what drove James, an intern in the Clayton County State Court Solicitor General's Office, as he helped to stuff about 500 plastic bags with donated school supplies. The bags will be distributed to needy Clayton County students next month. This is the second year Solicitor General Tasha Mosley's office has sponsored a school supplies drive.
"We just saw a need," said Mosley. "With the housing market what it is, people losing jobs, parents don't have money for school supplies. We felt like we needed to do whatever it takes to keep these kids out of our courtrooms and in schools."
James, a junior at University of Georgia, said the donations mean one less thing for students to worry about.
"You always have that kid in class asking to borrow a pencil or a pack of paper," said James. "This will alleviate that. They won't have to ask, it'll already be there."
Fellow intern Kiara Taylor, a rising senior at Lovejoy High School, agreed.
"I feel like having the supplies helps motivates students," she said. "Sometimes, I think students may feel like if their parents don't care enough to make sure they have supplies, why should they bother to excel in school? This takes care of that issue, too, and they can focus on learning."
Mosley said the response to the supply drive has been overwhelming.
"We've had defense attorneys, law clerks, secretaries, people who work in the courthouse, all coming in with bags of supplies," she said. "It all helps out tremendously. We also had people who came to the courthouse for other things, [and] saw our posters about the drive who came back to ask how they could receive the bags. Our goal is to not turn anyone away."
This year, Mosley put out a special request for the bags.
"I told them we needed to put dictionaries in there because our babies can't spell," she said. "They rely too much on spell check. So we added dictionaries to the bags because they need it."
It fell mostly to the four interns to sort through the donations, box them according to type and bag up the supplies. Jessika Gilmore just graduated from Riverdale High School and was mindful of the final destination of the bags she was stuffing.
"Some student somewhere is going to be helped through the donations I am putting into bags," she said. "It isn't a lot but it gets them started."
Damarius Lewis is a rising senior at Forest Park High School and believes good goes around.
"I don't mind helping anyone," said Lewis. "I believe it is a blessing that will come back to us. I've enjoyed doing it."
But getting kids started on the right foot is just one way Mosley's office services the community. In November, she hosts a canned food drive for Thanksgiving. In December, there is a toy drive for Christmas. Next month, Mosley will sponsor a round-up of toiletries for homeless shelters.
"It's easy to prosecute cases," said Mosley. "It's harder to do community service, and that's what we're doing here. Giving back to the community is a year-round project."
To donate to any of the drives, contact the Solicitor's Office on the third floor at the Clayton County Courthouse in Jonesboro, or call (770) 477-3380.