By Daniel Sherrier
Gloria Perry wants to make sure every child goes to school with the proper supplies.
The Ruther Glen resident has been collecting school supplies on behalf of families in need for seven years. She started out small, helping out about 10 families in the first year. Last year, that number had grown to between 30 and 40. She and her fellow volunteers are getting school supplies to more than 100 families for the upcoming school year.
Perry said she’s always had a love of children, and it pained her “to see kids going to school with nothing.”
She added, “I’m talking about having a notebook and a pencil the first day of school. … People are always saying that the kids now are who’s going to be running the world in the future. We have to have them prepared to do that, and they have to have supplies to do so.”
Perry put out a request again this year for people to donate supplies, and Wright’s Chapel contacted her for assistance with their own school supply drive. The church in Ladysmith wanted to collect 100 packs of loose-leaf paper.
“So I said, sure, I could put the request out and see if we can get some help, and we got the paper within a week,” Perry said. “But then people just started contacting me, asking if they can donate, where it needs to be dropped off at, so Wright’s Chapel became a drop-off (location) for me. People are dropping stuff off on my front door. Every day I came home, there was something on my front door.”
Her operation has taken the name Gloria’s Locker, which was chosen by some of the children she’s helped.
Perry runs a Gloria’s Locker group on Facebook, which has the description: “Gloria’s Locker is where we come to find help for different needs in the community. Items range from food for families in need, to school supplies, to just about anything anyone needs help with. No promises!!! But we will do our best to help anyone who asks.”
School supplies donated to Gloria’s Locker go to elementary schools in Caroline, though she also works with volunteers in other parts of Virginia who are trying to do the same in their respective localities.
“Right now I have seven, and they’re spread throughout the state of Virginia. Some of them will bring their supplies to me to distribute, and some of them will keep them local for their area,” Perry said.
School begins Aug. 20 in Caroline County this year, and Perry’s goal is to make sure every child has something to get started. But she also noted that the need for school supplies continues throughout the year. Now, however, is when supplies are cheapest.
“They’re dirt-cheap (now). A couple of months down the road, they won’t be, and they won’t be as available. And why the stores don’t have a mid-year big sale like they do in the beginning, I don’t understand,” she said.
After school starts, Perry is going to turn some of her attention over to a clothing drive. She’s been in touch with local communities about the possibility of arranging “clothing swaps” for kids.
“There are a lot of people in the county that have clothes that they need to get rid of, and then they need to replenish their own wardrobe,” she said.
“It never ends, because the needs of the community are pretty great. When you get out there and start talking to people, there’s a lot of things going on,” Perry said.
Anyone interested in donating school supplies should contact Gloria Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org, or search “Gloria’s Locker” on Facebook.