Two local churches helped Northridge and Johnstown students get ready to go back to school last Wednesday by handing out free school supplies.

Two local churches helped Northridge and Johnstown students get ready to go back to school last Wednesday by handing out free school supplies.

Croton's Church of Christ held an Aug. 16 end-of-summer bash at the Hartford Fairgrounds to collect school supplies for families in need, while Johnstown's Faith Fellowship distributed free supplies last week for the second year in a row.

Youth Pastor Nick Zarley, of Croton Church of Christ, said he saw the need to provide supplies to kids because he's a second-grade teacher in a local school district.

"I see the need of school supplies for kids," he said. "I wanted to find a way -- a fun event for kids and to raise supplies for kids who don't have them so they can start out on the right foot like other kids."

Zarley's church held an all-day event that included activities for kids at the fairgrounds.

"We had 250 people come out," Zarley said. "We were busy from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. It went very well.

"I'm planning to do this every year," he said. "I'd like to get more churches involved. I'd like it to reach out and raise more school supplies and reach more communities -- reach the broader community and see how many kids we can help."

Four boxes of supplies were collected by church members and friends of the church.

"We were overwhelmed with notebook paper, book bags, crayons and glue," Zarley said. "Four filled boxes will go to the local elementary as well as Northridge Intermediate."

Pastor Dan McLaughlin, of Faith Fellowship, said 75 bags of school supplies were distributed last Monday and Tuesday from the church offices at 24 S. Main St. in Johnstown.

"We'll continue to distribute them the rest of the week," he said Wednesday. "It seems like there's a huge need this year. We'll keep it going until we run out. There was a huge outpouring of those who donated supplies."

Last year, the church distributed about 50 bags of school supplies.

"We saw an increase of 25 or so," McLaughlin said. "When you serve 'x' amount of families struggling to get by in this day and age, anything helps.

"We're trying to provide the help to those who are hurting," he said.

Faith Fellowship prints a list teachers gives to the kids with required supplies.

"We try to fill the basic elements with everything from pencils, glue, rulers, folders and paper, along with a new book bag," McLaughlin said.

The supplies were available for elementary aged children (ages K-5).

"We'll keep doing this," McLaughlin said. "We're centrally located on Main Street."