To alleviate the stress of costly school supplies for families in need, the United Way kicked off its annual Back 2 School resource fair last week.
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.
Chickasaw County will see United Way host its resource fair at the First Methodist Church Life Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
“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.
And United Way is partnering with Parents for Public Schools in Houston to do more for local children.
“Parents of Public Schools have been doing this giveaway for years,” said Shenia Jones, of PPS. “Jackie Gates and I were approached by United Way about joining up for this event.
“The purpose of this event is to provide parents of school children with valuable information that will be beneficial for the upcoming school year give them a jumpstart on school supplies,” Jones added. “I can’t imagine a child going to school without pencils, paper and the stuff all the other kids have.”
Saturday’s give-away will see eligible Chickasaw County students receive a backpack and school supplies while they last. To be eligible a student must be:
• Entering grades kindergarten through sixth grade
• Be present at the fair and be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Parents can’t pick up backpacks for children who are not present.
Lee County’s fair was July 19 in The Mall at Barnes Crossing in the space across from Charming Charlie’s. Kids received a backpack of their choosing stuffed with pencils, erasers, paper, glue, scissors, and other supplies, free of charge.
In addition, there were 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.
For more information about Saturday’s Back 2 School Resource Fair visit www.unitedwaynems.org/b2s
United Way donations raised in Chickasaw County are dispersed to 32 agencies serving people in Chickasaw County. Only 1 percent of United Way donations go to administration and the rest is dispersed to local agencies.
Chickasaw County United Way agencies are; American Red Cross, Autism Center of Tupelo, CATCH Kids, COPES – CDF Charities Inc., EXCEL Inc., Faith Haven, Family Resource Center of NEMS, Gardner-Simons Home for Girls, Girls Scouts, Habitat for Humanity of Houston, Harden House, Hope Family Ministries, LIFE of Mississippi, Mission Okolona Food Pantry, NCADD, NMMC Camp Breathe EZZZE, NMMC Cancer Patient Fund, NMMC Diabetes Assistance Fund, NMMC Heart Patient Assistance Fund, NMMC Hospice Patient Assistance Fund, NMMC Social Work Patient Fund, North MS Kidney Foundation, Okolona Dollars for Scholars, Parkgate Pregnancy Clinic, Regional Rehabilitation Center, S.A.F.E., Sally Kate Winters Family Services, Salvation Army of Chickasaw County, Special Ed Bowling League, Survival Inc., Weston Reed Foundation and Women First.
The deadline to request funds from United Way of Chickasaw County is Nov. 1.