"It's just overwhelming," said Sam Tarabelsi, co-chair of Team Medford, who himself is a Medford resident. "People really embraced this. The community, civic clubs and even vendors got involved."

Since the first week of August, hundreds of dollars in school supplies have been donated to the program's six drop-off bins. Tarabelsi said the Kiwanis Club contributed a few cases of crayons and Staples donated a $1,000 palate of supplies.

The idea to have a supply-drive came from Tom Anderson, one of about 15 Team Medford members.

"I did it at a company I used to work for," said Anderson. "It was an idea that always stuck with me."

Anderson has been with Team Medford for about two years. Recently, he said he has heard a lot of talk about how programs and funding have been cut in the Medford school system and many others.

Indeed, funding for instructional materials this year is down $6,500 for science, $2,500 for math, $1,200 for social studies, $2,300 for English and $3,900 for vocational education, according to the current budget. The total drop in funding for instructional materials was about 21 percent.

Team Medford contacted Assistant Superintendent Beverly Nelson to ask what supplies the kids would need most this year. Nelson, in turn, asked Medford's school principals and put a list together.

On the list were many common items such as binders, folders, glue sticks, pencils, lined paper, dry erase markers, backpacks, tissues and hand sanitizer.
"The response from the Hallmark employees has been fantastic," said Anderson. "I have supplies stashed in my office, some in the trunk of my car and even more in another office."

On Monday evening, Anderson estimated at least two large pallets of materials have been collected so far. The team is expected to make the final delivery to the schools on Aug. 28.

The group came together about six years ago, said Tarabelsi, and participates in a number of community programs and activities, including the Victorian Stroll, school nutrition programs and the Thanksgiving football game between Medford and Malden high schools.

"At Hallmark Health, we're committed to bridging the connection between the hospitals and their communities," said Tarabelsi. "We're all driven to do everything we can for these kids."


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