By Mary Fox

Back-to-school time often brings with it the anxiety that accompanies a new beginning, and providing our children with the right start to the new school year can be a burden on parents. Something as simple as backpacks filled with pencils and paper will help get them off to a good start at school, as well as let them know someone cares.

To give these families a little boost, the Great Valley Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary has made gifts of backpacks filled with school supplies for children who need them in the town of Great Valley. The auxiliary has also purchased backpacks and supplies to be left at the Ellicottville Central School for children whose families may have difficulty purchasing all the necessary items.

“Profits made from selling regatta T-shirts last May made it possible to do more for our community and kids in our town,” said Toni Evans, president of the Great Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Auxiliary. “The backpack project is a simple act of kindness by ladies who want to make a difference and it’s just the beginning. There are other projects in the works.”

The 15-member auxiliary is made up of significant others of the volunteer firefighters and interested women from the community. The auxiliary’s official mission is, “to support the fire company by helping with their fundraisers and offer support at fire scenes with refreshments if necessary.” And now it looks like the auxiliary has another mission — reaching out to the community.

“We want to encourage a positive view of the fire company and its volunteers and let children and parents know people care about their welfare all the time, not just in an emergency,” said Evans. “It is the hope of the auxiliary that all kids can start the school year with everything they need in order to have a successful school year.”

School time  is almost here, but the kids at the Great Valley and Kill Buck Summer Youth Program, as well as community programs all around the area, had a wonderful summer and a place to go to enjoy social time with friends they know and new ones they may likely see in school.

This year, the Summer Youth Program in Great Valley had a weekly swimming program. The kids were bused by the Ellicottville Central School to Holiday Valley where they were only charged $1 for a day at the pool. Older siblings and moms often came with them. The Kill Buck children went to Salamanca for swimming.  A fieldtrip to the fish hatchery was also provided.

Weeks of activities included inside and outside (when not raining) games, crafts and stories, all supervised by several teenage aides under the direction of Becky Pierce, coordinator of the Great Valley/Kill Buck Youth Program with Amy Westfall heading up the Kill Buck program.

“Along with the 20 kids we have had in the past, we had 15 new kids coming from the district,” said Pierce.  “In spite of the weather, we had a very awesome summer.”