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Ashdown School District students in kindergarten through fifth grade will not be required to purchase school supplies this year, as the district has partnered with Walmart and Domtar to provide the items.

This is the second year for the program, which was wildly popular last year, Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols said.

"You're always, especially in a district with such a low socioeconomic rate, you're trying to find a way to break down those barriers to make sure they have what they need so it won't be a hindrance to the educational process," he said. "Providing crayons and other things that are needed just becomes cumbersome. We wanted to make sure our kids have what they needed and break that tradition of putting that burden on the parent."

Nichols said the district looked to the community and that Domtar and Walmart both stepped up to donate and help the district provide the supplies.

"Supporting educational initiatives in our community is very important to Domtar and employees of the Ashdown mill and we are honored to partner with the school district and assist parents by providing students the tools necessary for success to start off the school year," said Tammy Waters, Domtar's manager of communications and government relations.

Kindergarten students only need to purchase a backpack, a fabric pencil bag, sleep mat and a coloring book. First grade students need to purchase a backpack and coloring book, second grade students need to purchase a backpack and students in third through fifth grades need to purchase a pencil case and a backpack.

"We really minimized the things they have to provide for the educational process," Nichols said. "It's been a huge positive. We've been very, very excited about it."

He added that the donations will affect 600 to 650 students in the lower grades.

"It's truly breathtaking to see that folks are so excited about wanting to help go out there and find ways to help our kiddos out," he said. "It's just a really awesome community."

Additional partners and donations to the program are welcome. For more information, contact Central Administration at 870-898-3208.

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