OACAC helping students prepare to go back to school

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

235 students sign up for Back To School Fair

The local Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation Barry County Neighborhood Center prepares for going back to school with a fair, where students will receive school supplies and other important back to school items for the best start to a new school year.

Gail Reed, Barry County Neighborhood Center supervisor, said this is the 18th year OACAC has provided theses services to local students.

“We do this to provide the students with school supplies and backpacks,” she said. “There are different agencies and businesses that supply services to the students.”

Reed said the parents are with the children when they come to the fair, so they get information about services that might be available for the students.

“Access comes and they do a dental check, Bright Futures provided the backpacks, the library brings a book for each student, there are haircut vouchers for them, each student gets a new pair of socks and the United Methodist Church provides a new pair of shoes for each child signed up,” she said. “I get the Walmart Community Foundation Grant which pays for all the school supplies.”

Reed said there are all kinds of other local donations as well.

“There are 235 children signed up and signups have ended,” she said. “We allow students from kindergarten to senior year to sign up.”

Reed said it is hard to say what the biggest need is for the students, as it varies for each child.

“It is all important to them,” she said. “When children start a new school year, they need a new haircut, a new pair of shoes and their supplies.”

Reed said she thinks about the first day of school for children and how important it is for them to feel their best.

“It means so much to them to feel confident and ready,” she said. “We partner with the ministerial alliance and we do a hotdog lunch for all the families signed up.”

Reed said the Back To School Fair through OACAC was advertised so much this year which explains the jump in the signup numbers.

“We got our flyer to the school who put it on their social media pages, and we ran our signup a little bit longer than we usually do,” she said. “Last year, I believe our signup numbers were 147 children, so we are reaching a lot more people this year.”

Reed said OACAC continues to hold supplies and gives them out during the school year.

“Another thing is that not everyone who needs it gets signed up,” she said. “So, for those families, we do a life skills class for the parents of the students who didn’t get signed up, and we give those student backpacks and school supplies, as well.”

Reed said although they don’t get everything else, they still get those important supplies for school.

“We do the life skill class based around how to give your child a successful school year,” she said. “We have a teacher that will come and talk about how to work with your child’s teacher.”

Reed said on Aug. 6, the students grades 7-12 get to do a REALL Simulation, which is a stay in school project.

“We take that around to different schools and have a pizza party with those students,” she said. “There is so much to do, and the whole end of July and beginning of August, we try our best to give the students what they need.”

Reed said people ask her all the time what is needed the most, and she tells them everything.

“We need crayons, folders, paper and pencils,” she said. “People can drop off any donations at anytime here at the office.”

For more information about donating or signing up, people may contact the local OACAC office at 417-847-2140.

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