Writer / Janelle Morrison The Merciful H.E.L.P. Center has a long history of providing assistance to parishioners and others in Hamilton County. One of the ministries is the Tools for School annual event that will be held at the center located in Carmel on July 21-24. The Tools for School event is designed to assist qualified families that live in Hamilton County with backpacks, school supplies and other important school needs according to the children’s supply list(s). Hamilton County Kids Coats will be on hand to supply used spring/fall coats, and Book in Hand will provide a new book for every child. They also assist with shoes, socks and underwear. The Merciful H.E.L.P. Center was awarded a matching grant from the Rotary Club of Carmel to increase the center’s purchasing power and provide more shoes to the county’s children in need. “Rotary focuses on engaging our communities and identifying the needs in our communities, so that we can provide assistance,” said Ray Kramp, past president of the Rotary Club of Carmel. “The Tools for School program is one in which our club supports. The program helps the youth in our entire county. We want our young people to have a successful start to a new school year, and it helps to relieve the parents and guardians of the students of the burden of obtaining the essentials that their child or children need before the first day of school. Our club made a significant contribution through the matching grant program through The Rotary Foundation that supports local, national and international projects.” Kramp and several of his fellow Rotarians have worked with the Merciful H.E.L.P. Center Director, Pastoral Care and Outreach Director, Jayne Slaton, for several years. “It’s really quite beautiful,” Slaton expressed. “Everyone is greeted by caring people when they arrive. The underlying message is that the people who come to this event are our neighbors, and we are all the same. When we enter this event, we are entering it shoulder to shoulder with the people who need help. It is important that our attendees are treated with dignity and have positive interactions and fellowship with our volunteers and staff. We do these events because it truly breaks down all barriers and creates love between people.” The Tools for School event is an immense undertaking. It requires a little more than 1,000 individuals to put it on. From the setup and teardown to working the event in many areas, the center relies on the local parishioners, service organizations and the general public for volunteers. Those who wish to learn more and sign up to volunteer can visit the center’s website and register through a link that is highlighted on their site. Starting July 30, school supplies will be available during regular food pantry hours as long as supplies last. The Tools for School 2016 registration form for families who wish to participate must be completed by July 12 by 7 p.m. Appointments are filled on a first come, first served basis until all slots are filled. For questions, email ToolsforSchool@mercifulhelpcenter.org or visit mercifulhelpcenter.org.