Families in need of school supplies will line up in vehicles in the cone-marked parking lot around Lakewood Middle School, 1135 E. Lakewood Circle, to pick up backpacks for this year’s Saline County Back to School Fair. The annual event provides a free bag and basic school supplies for students grades Kindergarten through eighth. The distribution usually happens inside the school. But on Friday, August 7, noon to 6 p.m., with precautions for the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will look a little different. The distribution will be a drive-thru process, with mask-wearing volunteers.
The supply assistance program is preparing 1,300 supply-filled backpacks for students this year. To be eligible to receive school supplies, students must live in or attend school in Saline County or be enrolled in a school in Saline County and qualify for free or reduced school lunches. Volunteers will be handing out the bags to limit physical contact on the one-day event.
COVID-19 has been a factor in this year’s planning and distribution. In addition to the changes with distribution, during the organizing on Wednesday, packaging Thursday, and distribution Friday, volunteers will be required to wear masks, and there will be frequent handwashing. “We need and are grateful for the volunteers involved in distribution and tasks such as unpacking bulk supplies, organizing, and packing bags,” said Theresa Stevens, Back to School Fair Steering Committee Member.
“One of the things we’ll miss is seeing the kid’s faces light up when they get their backpacks. When they get their colorful backpacks, they quickly unzip the bags, and then they start pulling out the new box of crayons, the multi-colored folders, new glue sticks, and more. It’s apparent how thankful they are,” said Brenda Gutierrez, Back to School Fair Steering Committee Member. “This year, under their masks, we’re sure they’ll be beaming,” Gutierrez added.
“The annual event is possible thanks to many generous donors — and that includes individuals, organizations, faith-based groups, businesses, foundations and more,” said Daren Neuschafer, Back to School Fair Steering Committee Member. Contribute today by mailing your donation to Saline County Back to School Fair, our fiscal agent: Greater Salina Community Foundation, PO Box 2876, Salina, KS 67402-2876. Please note “Back to School Fair” on your check. All donations are tax-deductible.
The annual Saline County Back to School Fair involves collaboration between numerous community organizations. To volunteer, register at http://volunteer.unitedwaysalina.org/agency/detail/?agency_id=51043. Volunteer needs are on Wednesday, 9 a.m.- noon, to open bulk items and organize supplies, Thursday 9 a.m. – noon, to pack backpacks, and on Friday, noon – 6 p.m. to help with distribution. Questions contact Brenda Gutierrez at the Salina Area United Way, 785-827-1312.
The goal of the Saline County Back to School Fair is that students are equipped with basic school supplies on the first day of school. For updates and to learn more, https://www.facebook.com/SalineBTSF/