The Barry County OACAC Neighborhood Center is gearing up for its 2012 School Readiness Fair, which will be held at the Crowder College Cassville Campus Community Center on Thursday, Aug. 2. This year, 194 preschool through 12th grade students have signed up for the fair.
"Right now, we are working on the booths for this year's fair," said Gail Reed, Barry County OACAC director.
The Cassville Branch Library, Crowder College, CoxHealth, the Barry County Health Department, Girl Scouts, University of Missouri Extenion, MPACT and ACCESS Family Care will once again offer information and services during the fair.
OACAC staff members also hope to see vendors offer hearing screenings, dental services, DNA screening and hair cuts. The Neighborhood Center will provide information on parenting and safety tips.
"We need volunteers," said Reed. "Volunteers can help with set up and take down. They can man booths and assist vendors. They can even help pack school supplies before the fair and help hand out supplies during the event."
Volunteers can sign up to help for a few hours or the whole day. Lunch is provided for the vendors and volunteers.
"It is tons of fun seeing the kids," said Reed. "They are always excited when they get there. It's really rewarding to see how excited they are."
The Neighborhood Center is also accepting school supplies and monetary donations for the annual fair. Donations are used to purchase supplies and backpacks.
During past School Readiness Fairs, the Neighborhood Center was able to provide each child with a backpack and most of the school supplies needed for the first day of school. Last year, a decrease in donations limited the number of backpacks available to children.
This year, staff members hope to be able to once again provide all children with backpacks for the first day of school.
"We will need a lot of loose leaf paper, wide ruled. They can't use the college ruled," said Reed. "We also need pencils, crayons, scissors, glue and gluesticks. We will probably need around 1,200 folders."
Community members can pick up a few extra supplies or purchase a backpack and fill it with supplies for a child. Monetary donations received will be used to purchase supplies for children who are signed up for the fair.
"We will accept supplies right up until the time we pack for the fair, which will be Aug. 1," said Reed.
Area businesses and organizations are invited to participate in the fair by offering booths with information, gift items, services and activities. Children will receive "Smart Cookies Go Back to School" passports to ensure they visit each of the vendor booths.
For more information, to sign up as a volunteer or to donate items for the fair, call 847-2140 or visit the Neighborhood Center on Highway 248 in Cassville. The center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday.