Since we are in the first weekend of August, it’s time for those three words that students dread all summer long: Back to school.

If you’ve been to any department store over the past month, then you’ve no doubt seen the signs as well as the special sections full of school supplies. And if you’ve been following our newspaper, you’ve heard about many of the back-to-school events and backpack drives being held locally.

Furthermore, Laurel County Schools are actually set to begin this week, with the rest of our local schools starting soon after.

Thus, the back-to-school season is in full swing, and hopefully everyone is ready.

When I was a youngster, this time of the year was always bittersweet for me.

I was always incredibly sad that my freedom was coming to an end. I always had such fun spending summertime with my brother, my friends and my neighbors. We certainly didn’t realize how carefree those days were until the month of August rolled around. I can even remember crying at least once the night before the first day of school one year.

However, there were some things I got really excited about, too.

Despite the sadness I felt when summer vacation was ending, I got really excited about everything else involving the school year starting back.

I vividly remember my parents and I driving by the school each July to pick up my school supply list as well as to find out whose class I would be in. I couldn’t wait to see what supplies I would need and to also find out how many of my friends were going to be in my homeroom.

Then once we had those lists, I always looked forward to going school shopping.

I’m sure my mom always had to drag me to the store any other time of the year, but I always had a blast picking out my supplies.

When I would pick out folders, I would always pick out the ones that had a famous athlete on them. When I would pick out crayons, I would always go for the biggest pack I could find. And when it came to my pencil box, I had to choose whatever one looked the coolest.

Those things were nothing compared to the big items I would get to buy every few years though. I’m of course talking about the big ticket items — backpacks, lunchboxes and Trapper Keepers.

I still remember the backpack I had in first-grade which had Nintendo characters Mario and Link on it. From there I would graduate into a more mature Chicago Bulls backpack, and then finally a plain backpack once I got “too old” for the kiddie stuff.

I also remember one of my first lunchboxes being one of those classic plastic ones that came with a Thermos. Mine was blue and had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on it. I actually wish I still had it today.

And then the king of all school supplies was the Trapper Keeper.

If you’re too young or even too old to remember Trapper Keepers, they were basically three-ring binders except they were way more awesome. They came in all sorts of 1980s- and 1990s-inspired designs, had matching folders inside, and several extra pockets and zippers for you to store your extra stuff.

They were definitely way more than you needed, but were no doubt the be-all and end-all of your school supply collection.

However, as I reminisce on all of the nice things I got to have and show off to my friends, I’m reminded of the back-to-school events I mentioned earlier.

I shared last week about how my church hosted a Backpack Bash. Several other churches and schools have also been having their own events to help get needy children ready for the new year.

I appreciate these events so much because many of us tend to forget that there are others who don’t have what we have. They’re not able to just run out to the store and buy whatever school supplies they need. They’re definitely not able to pick out the coolest backpack or lunchbox like I was.

And thus I believe it’s very important we either donate to these types of events or just pay extra attention to our neighbors who could be in need.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the back-to-school craziness and only focus on our needs, but we have to remember those who are less fortunate, as well.

1 John 3:17 says, “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”

Through our participation with our church’s Backpack Bash, my wife and I learned just how easy it is to help out during back-to-school season. You can buy a backpack and fill it with the essential supplies for as little as $20-25 total. Or if you wanted to take it a step further, I’m sure it wouldn’t take much more effort to take some children shopping.

As I discussed last week, there are students also in need of services like haircuts and dental screenings that I’m sure many folks would be able to perform or at least help pay for.

Whatever you can do to help out will make a big difference in a child’s life.

I was fortunate enough to be able to go back-to-school shopping when I was a child, and I always looked forward to it. While losing my summer vacation was sad, it was always exciting picking out shiny new supplies for the upcoming school year.

And while I probably didn’t realize it back then, I certainly realize now just how nice and easy I had it. But for many other students, it’s a struggle and not nearly as exciting. So if we have the opportunity to help some of them out, we can really make a huge difference.

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