It seems like summer has just begun, but already local charity groups are preparing to help students with supplies they’ll need when the new school year begins Aug. 7.

Covington Food Bank’s Back-to-School program will provide a uniform, school supplies and a backpack for the children of food bank clients.

Volunteer coordinator Jan Gardner said the distribution of supplies begins July 22. Donations are needed of both school supplies and monetary contributions.

They would like to have the donations in hand by July 15 so the volunteers can begin to fulfill the supply list for each student.

“The monetary donations are used to buy a uniform for each child and to buy whatever items appear on the child’s school supply list that are not donated to us,” she said. “Last year we provided a uniform and supplies to 243 children.”

The program serves students in grades pre-K through eighth. Items that can be donated are new pencils, pens (blue, black and red), highlighters, glue, crayons, construction paper, colored pencils, index cards, water color paints, rulers, erasers, pencil cases and more.

Gardner said some supply list items are specific. The student may be required to have only Fiskars scissors; washable Crayola markers; wide-ruled paper and notebooks; wide-ruled marble notebooks; two-pocket; three-prong folders; and so on.

“We try to put as many of the items listed on the supply list as we can in each bag,” she said.

Covington Food Bank serves more than 130 registered families with almost 250 children from St. Tammany and Washington parishes. About 100 of those families served are from St. Tammany, she said.

It is not a walk-up program, and families must be registered to receive assistance from the food bank in order to qualify.

Gardner was volunteering at the food bank when “Miss Thelma” Castay, the now-retired head of the food bank, wanted to start a program to help the children of the families they served. In 2009, they began the Back-to-School program, and Gardner has helped coordinate it ever since.

Donations can be brought to the Covington Food Bank from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday at 840 N. Columbia St.

For information on how to contribute, call Terri Turner-Marse at the Covington Food Bank at (985) 893-3003, ext. 102. To find out more about the Covington Food Bank, visit www.covington foodbank.org.

Sharon Edwards is community news editor of the New Orleans Advocate.