By Riley Manning
The cost of getting a child ready and equipped for the first day of school is no negligible sum.
To alleviate the stress of costly school supplies for families in need, the United Way will kick off its annual Back 2 School resource fair on Saturday.
The resource fair began in 2011, and took place in a single location. However, United Way campaign and communications associate Robin Matkin said last year each county served by the United Way of Northeast Mississippi held its own fair.
“It actually been easier doing it that way, financially, because since the money stays in the county it was donated in, more people are willing to give,” Matkin said.
Lee County’s fair will be July 19 in The Mall at Barnes Crossing in the space across from Charming Charlie’s. Kids will receive a backpack of their choosing stuffed with pencils, erasers, paper, glue, scissors, and other supplies, free of charge. In addition, there will be more than 30 booths set up by organizations like Healthworks! and Excel by 5 to administer free vision and health screenings.
“It’s not everything, but we hope it’s at least enough to get a student prepared to be there on the first day,” Matkin said. “And they’re doing more than getting school supplies. A lot of the booths are fun activities for them to do, as well.”
Matkin said each stuffed backpack costs $12.50. Overall, the United Way will hand out 4,000 backpacks in the seven counties. She said anyone qualifies to receive a backpack. The only questions they will ask, she said, is what county the child is from and if they are on free and reduced lunch. The child receiving the backpack must be present.