ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR)-- Ruby and Elmer Martin are growing their back to school give-away every year. What started six years ago as just handing out paper and pencils has turned into something more, but the Martins still hold onto the reason they began this venture.
"The parent didn't have the funding because it was toss up," explained Ruby Martin. "Do I get tennis shoes or do I get paper and pencil?"
Now nearly a thousand students have some basic supplies they need from pre-k all the way through college.
"It is a kind of relief to have the opportunity to have some of the supplies available to you," explained Keerica bailey, an in-coming freshman at McHenry College. "It's a great feeling to have somebody to help you."
The Martin's say the day is about more than giving out free supplies, it's about bringing families together. Something that resonates with Bailey.
"I always feel like I'm trapped at home worried about social media," said bailey. "So when I do get to come out, and my mom's older and in a wheel chair, so I like spending as much time with her as possible. It's a great feeling."
A few miles north, another school supply give-away is working for the same goal.
"That's pretty much what we want to do, to bring everybody together," explained Ladeta Layne, a member of Christian Union Full Gospel Church Ministries. "To show love, to let them know we're all unified, to show them we're all working together."
Both groups say bringing the community together is what it's all about.