Volunteer Ascension is collecting school supplies and uniforms this summer as part of the agency’s efforts to ensure area children are prepared for the upcoming school year.

The nonprofit agency is collecting new and used school uniforms at Kean’s in Prairieville, SACS Western Store, Dutch’s Cleaners, LeJeune’s Cleaners and The Uniform Post.

Volunteer Ascension’s 19th annual School Tools Drive for needy children gets underway July 15 with the Corporate Challenge, presented by the Eatel Cares team.

All Ascension Parish businesses, industry, organizations and local municipalities have been challenged to collect and drop off designated school supplies. The items can be dropped off from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the big yellow bus in the Eatel parking lot, 406 E. Worthy St., in Gonzales. Monetary donations also will be accepted.

The next event in the drive is the School Tools Challenge from 8 a.m. to noon July 16. The community is encouraged to drop off school supplies with Volunteer Ascension teams in front of the Donaldsonville Wal-Mart, the Gonzales Dollar General on Burnside or the Gonzales Family Dollar on La. 44 by Ralph’s.

Residents don’t have to wait until July 15 to help out.

The St. Amant Volunteer Fire Department is holding a Stuff the Fire Truck campaign. Fire Chief James LeBlanc said residents can drop off supplies through July 9 at the department’s station on Stringer Bridge Road. A drum has been placed in front of the station to collect the supplies.

On July 9, LeBlanc said, residents can drop off supplies at All About Insurance and LeBlanc’s Auto Title, at Burnside and Cornerview roads. Free pastalaya will be served to anyone donating supplies.

Denig and LeBlanc said it takes a communitywide effort to collect the supplies needed to ensure students will have what they need on the first day of school.

“Each year, we are amazed at the way our community comes together to make this program such a huge success. It’s so heartwarming to even see young children placing bags of school supplies in a collection barrel. Even at their tender age, they get how important it is to help others,” said Sherry Denig, executive director of Volunteer Ascension.

Visit volunteerascension.org for information and a list of needed school supply items; make a donation online at bit.ly/1JxNh0v.