The Salvation Army began distributing school supplies on Wednesday, the first of four distribution days.
At the downtown location, the line stretched for nearly a block on Market Street as parents, some with their children, waited to pick up supplies.
Shortly after 10 a.m., Xiomara Milton was waiting in the middle of the line to pick up supplies for her two sons.
“It’ll help out some, and whatever else I have to get, I’ll get,” Milton said.
Consuelo Viscarra was near the back of the line at 10:15 a.m. and had been waiting just 30 minutes.
She was picking up supplies for her four kids, ages 8, 11, 12 and 14.
“I come every year,” she said.
For her, the line and the wait was typical.
“Most people come the first day because they’re worried about (us) running out,” said Brian Carroll, development director for The Salvation Army.
Once inside, families waited downstairs for their number to be called. Then, they went upstairs to the gym.
After a volunteer verified their income, residency and identification, parents were handed supplies based on their child’s grade level.
All supplies are donated, and monetary donations are used to purchase supplies, too.
“Spirit brought in 17 pallets of school supplies donated by their employees,” or about $20,000 of supplies, Carroll said.
In addition to that, Spirit gave The Salvation Army a check for more than $60,000, he said.
“If it weren’t for the generosity of our community and the businesses we work with, this wouldn’t be possible,” Carroll said.
By 10:30 a.m., the line was getting shorter outside, but the wait still seemed long.
Teresa Goodman stood outside with her daughter, Maddison, who will be a kindergartener this fall.
Teresa came because supplies are expensive, and she needs the help right now.
“What I don’t get, I can get later,” Teresa said.
While Teresa was waiting, Kathy Aguirre was already leaving, school supplies for her four youngest children in hand.
“Whatever money I (don’t) waste on supplies, I can spend on a phone bill,” Aguirre said. “I really don’t want to ask grandma for help.”
This was Aguirre’s fourth year getting supplies from The Salvation Army. She had waited two hours in line.
“As long as you come in early, you get out fast,” Aguirre said.
School supplies will continue to be distributed from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Monday at three Salvation Army locations.
Last year, The Salvation Army provided school supplies to 12,498 children in the Wichita area.