14th annual School Readiness Fair set for Aug. 1
Event offers school supplies, backpacks, shoes, lunch and more
Not every family has the ability to buy a full load of school supplies for their child or their children, and the Barry County Neighborhood Center is looking to fill any such voids for local children.
Part of the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation, the center is gearing up for its 14th annual School Readiness Fair, which will be held Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Family Life Center in Cassville.
Gail Reed, center supervisor, said pre-registration is underway, and she expects about 250 children to attend this year's event.
"You have to pre-register, and we go by income guidelines," she said. "But, we won't turn anyone away that needs school supplies."
For the second year, the center is partnering with the Cassville Ministerial Alliance to provide school children with everything from pencils to paper, books to shoes and backpacks to haircuts.
"It's great to get everyone together in one place," she said. "We find parents are more able to get information if it's all together, rather than going out to multiple different places."
Along with the regular battery of school supplies, like pencils, paper, notebooks, crayons and markers, just to name a few, many other agencies who help children will also be on hand to provide information or services.
Children can get dental checkups and vision screenings, which tell a parent if their child need an eye exam. The United Methodist Church will provide shoes, haircuts will be provided on-site or vouchers given, the D.A.R.E. program will be taking DNA, and the YMCA, Vocational Rehabilitation, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, E-911 and Head Start will all be on hand.
Reed said the center is looking for donations, monetary or school supplies, to make the event a success.
"We have to have donations of school supplies or monetary donations to buy the school supplies," she said. "It costs a lot to outfit 250 kids with supplies and backpacks, and we try to give as much as we can to complete the school supply lists."
Reed said last year, the center spent about $3,000 to $4,000 on school supplies for the event.
"The community always comes out to help with donations, and the churches have been awesome," she said. "It takes a lot to get all the school supplies we need."
Along with the supplies themselves, Reed said there will be some fun activities for children, like bouncy houses and face painting, and a lunch will be served as well.
"It's nice for parents to be able to sit and eat while their kids play in the bouncy houses," she said. "It's partly like a social outing for the families, and they have a good time with it.
"I've always felt this is such a good project, because I can't imagine being a little kid and going to school without supplies. This event helps put everyone on an even footing to start school, and it gives the kids self-confidence and self-esteem to be ready from day one."
For more information about how to register or what to donate, people may call the Barry County Neighborhood Center at 417-847-2140.