By Sarah Robinson/NEMS Daily Journal
The United Way of Northeast Mississippi is helping more families get ready for the upcoming school year.
The Back 2 School resource fair, now in its third year, distributes free backpacks and school supplies to area children.
“No one is turned away,” said Robin Matkin, the campaign and funds distribution assistant for the organization.
Backpacks are available to any child entering kindergarten through sixth grade. Children must be present to receive a backpack.
The 2013 resource fair will be a little different from last year’s event. Instead of holding one fair at the BancorpSouth Arena, the agency will host fairs at six locations throughout the region to try to reach a larger audience.
According to Matkin, the United Way last year gave away about 3,200 backpacks, and about 250 kids got extra supplies.
“This year we’re looking to give away more than 5,000 backpacks,” she said.
Also in a change from last year, parents do not need to preregister for the event.
The first two events will be held July 20 in Tupelo and Fulton.
Four additional events will be held July 27 in Pontotoc, New Albany, Iuka and Booneville.
Matkin said the United Way also is looking for additional help with the event. Those who wish to donate to the Back 2 School Resource Fairs can do so online at www.unitedwaynems.org.
A donation of $10 offsets the cost of a backpack and supplies for one child.
Volunteers are also needed to work at the resource fairs. Businesses and other nonprofit organizations can get on board by setting up a booth at one of the events. The United Way asks that all vendors provide attendees only with information, activities or giveaways.
Back 2 School Resource Fairs
• Lee and Chickasaw counties: July 20 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.,The Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo
• Itawamba County: July 20 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.,at Itawamba Attendance Center in Fulton
• Pontotoc County: July 27 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.,West Heights Baptist Church in Pontotoc
• Prentiss County: July 27, from 9 a.m. to noon, Baptist Memorial Hospital in Booneville
• Tishomingo County: July 27 from 9 a.m. to noon, Families First Resource Center in Iuka
• Union County: July 27, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., New Albany Elementary