As the school year nears its end, Grandview Heights students may look forward to trashing their leftover school supplies.

Two Edison Intermediate/ Larson Middle School fifth-graders have a better idea.

Olivia Sanzo and Viessa Cantelmo have organized Supplies for Students, a drive to collect gently used school supplies that will be distributed to poor areas of Appalachia.

The drive began in early May and will continue through the last day of school May 25.

"We want to give our old school supplies to people that don't have a lot, because school supplies are really expensive," Olivia said.

In researching their project, the girls found a news article that referenced a survey of more than 2,000 parents conducted by American Express Spending and Saving Tracker.

"It showed that families were spending an average of $1,239 on school supplies (in 2015)," Olivia said. "Compared to 2014, those expenses increased by 7.6 percent."

The inspiration for their project came from Lydia McLaughlin's fifth-grade English language arts class, in which students compared and contrasted a novel, documentary and song lyrics relating to Appalachia.

"We found out that some people who live in Appalachia don't have a lot of money and have trouble buying school supplies for their children," Viessa said.

"I didn't know too much about Appalachia,' she said. "I knew it was a place that wasn't too far from us, but I didn't know how much poverty was there and the flooding that occurs for people who live near a river."

For Supplies for Students, the girls are partnering with Appalachian Outreach Inc.

"They do a lot to help people who live in Appalachia," Viessa said. "They have a quote on their website that says their mission is 'to help relieve the burden of poverty and the loss of dignity suffered by the people of Appalachia.' "

The school supplies collected at the school will be forwarded to AOI, which will distribute them to schools and families in need, Olivia said.

"We put boxes in each classroom at our school and we're asking people to donate their gently used school supplies," she said.

Suggested donations include paper, pens, pencils, colored markers, glue sticks, crayons, picture and chapter books, notebooks, binders, notepads, highlighters, rulers, scissors and erasers.

"We're asking that the supplies be at least half full," Viessa said.

To advertise their project, they created a video that teachers will show their classes, she said.

The project has another benefit: to help cut down on waste, Olivia said.

"We found in our research that 40 percent of trash (is) paper products that are being wasted," she said.

"A lot of people get to the end of the year and they've only used some of the pages in their notebooks, but they just go ahead and throw them away," Viessa said.

One idea is for students to have their parents use an X-Acto knife to cut out the used paper, she said. The notebooks then can be reused or donated for SFS.

Community members also are invited to donate items to SFS, Olivia said.

"They may have some leftover supplies they have at home that they could bring in," she said.

Donated items can be dropped off at the front office at the school, 1240 Oakland Ave.

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