REFUGIO COUNTY – As students in Refugio County prepare for the upcoming school year, many are doing so with the supplies they need to succeed thanks to a joint initiative between United Way of the Coastal Bend, H-E-B and KRIS Communications. 

Austwell-Tivoli, Refugio and Woodsboro ISDs recently received free school supplies as part of the 29th annual Operation Supply Our Students community-wide school supply drive.

“We are so grateful to the many Operation SOS donors, volunteers and our partners at KRIS Communications and H-E-B for another successful drive,” said Libby Averyt, President and CEO of United Way of the Coastal Bend. “With 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the supplies, we’re able to help thousands of students start the year with one less concern. 

“We want students focused on education – not worrying about whether they have enough pencils or paper.”

More than 59,000 Coastal Bend students qualify to receive the basic school supplies generated through Operation SOS. 

Thanks to the community’s support, schools across Bee, Brooks, Duval, Jim Wells, Live Oak, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, Refugio and San Patricio counties received free supplies. 

School administrators work to ensure donated materials go to students with the greatest need.

“We receive supplies from our local organizations, but nothing of this magnitude,” said Austwell-Tivoli Superintendent Dolores Vela. 

The donations provided by United Way of the Coastal Bend were enough to provide supplies to all 141 students in her school district. 

“For the families that need help, this is an asset. 

“Now we can say you don’t have to go without because we have all the tools you need.”

For almost 30 years, Operation SOS has helped to raise awareness and collect basic school supplies for thousands of students throughout the Coastal Bend. 

This year’s initiative is estimated to have served around 10,000 students.