Mayflower and Vilonia schools received a donation of school supplies Wednesday from Conway Regional Medical Center.

At Mayflower Elementary School, CRMC employees CJ Newton, Tanya Smith and Mallory Lefler carried in a carload of school supplies gathered during a drive conducted throughout the health system.

Principal Candie Watts said, "After the April 27 tornado, we have 67 displaced families, which, for us at the elementary level, means 26 kids that are still homeless. On a good day we get requests for help — two a day. So the school supplies will be very beneficial to eliminate some of the cost families associate with coming back to school."

She said she had teachers scale back their supply lists by removing the most expensive items in hopes of receiving those items through donations.

Newton said, "We were personally affected at the hospital as well. Sixteen employees were affected. Some lost everything. We treated 120 at the emergency room (immediately following the tornado). All our employees donated and gave what they could."

The employees said they have a school supply drive at the fitness center every year, but they normally choose a Conway school to give the supplies to. This year they decided to donate everything to Mayflower and Vilonia.

Watts said, "A lot of times Mayflower gets left out because Conway is so large. We do have a high need. Seventy percent of or kids are on free or reduced lunches. We appreciate you looking this way."

She said during three days of registration, the school received 12 requests for help with school supplies.

Employees took another carload of supplies to the Vilonia school district.

Dr. David Stephens, superintendent, said, "For a lot of the kids, if not all the kids, the best part of school starting is getting your school supplies. For the kids that might not have them ready for the first day, it means a lot to those kids."

He said administrators throughout the district will decide where the needs are greatest and distribute the supplies accordingly. He said the district has also met with displaced families.

"We had some parents express a need for some assistance with (school supplies). If any other parents have a need, we’ll do what we need to do to make sure their kids have the supplies they need."

Stephens added, "We’re very appreciative for the donation and the expression of support for our school. It was a great gift for us. We’re very thankful."

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