Lance and Sloane Freeman, owners of Hibbard's Prescription Plus in Medicine Lodge, made an ambitious goal become reality for the students and families of USD 254. On Thursday, the pharmacy began its first Back-to-School School Supply Giveaway, which will continue through the start of school on Aug. 22.
"School supplies are expensive!," Sloane Freeman explained. "By providing these to families, we hope that they can use the money saved to provide other basic needs, such as shoes and coats."
For most families in rural Kansas, getting everything on the supply list involves a trip to multiple stores and often a trip out-of-town. "We wanted to help alleviate that burden on parents and grandparents that already work hard to provide for their children, as well as help our community by giving back."
The Freemans and their staff set aside space in the retail store to offer free items, including backpacks, trapper keepers, glue, crayons, markers, etc. – everything on the supply list for PreK thru 8th grade. "We worked with the school to get that list early and began purchasing items that were on the list."
This is the first year they've offered the program. While they've donated to back-to-school events in the past, this event allows them to reach more people. "Every child is able to receive their supplies from us," she said. "The only parameter is that they attend school in the Medicine Lodge school district, as we did not have supply lists from surrounding schools, but," she noted, "if all goes well, the intent will be to expand this service into our other communities."
For a community pharmacy to provide a service like this, it fills a void most rural Kansas communities face.
"People shouldn’t have to worry about if they can afford school supplies, or if they have the right ones, or if they can take a day off of work to go get them," she said. "This was a big undertaking, but we are always looking at ways to fill a need and give back in some way. Pharmacies should be a staple in every community, and we intend to make sure that it stays that way."
Follow Hibbard's Prescription Plus on Facebook @hibbardsrx.