Community groups collect school supplies for kids

The mood was jovial in a community room at the First Church Congregational Tuesday night, where about 20 volunteers came together to sort school supplies into brand new backpacks in preparation for “Mall Day,” when the gear will be distributed to city children in need.

The backpack drive is the seventh annual organized between Methuen Arlington Neighborhood Inc., and First Church. A few days before the start of the school year, 75 kids will get to pick out their own head-to-toe outfit as if they’re out shopping (hence the term “Mall Day”) and take home a new backpack full of the school supplies requested by their teachers plus a “snack pack.”

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s such a positive event. Every kid deserves to feel good about themselves going back to school,” said Rev. Bill Ingraham, senior pastor at First Church.

Several folding tables jam-packed with supplies — from crisp, white sheets of paper in their plastic wrappings to crayons to scissors — sat next to round tables that held flattened backpacks, tags still intact. Within an hour, the bags sat on the folding tables, stuffed full of folders, toothbrushes and pencils, ready to be given to children starting their new school year. Read more.