Organizers for the Southeast Denton Back-2-School Fair are asking the community’s help in donating backpacks for distribution at the annual school supply drive Aug. 11.
Fair organizers said they intend to distribute 1,200 backpacks at the event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at Denton’s Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, and they are 300 backpacks short of the goal.
Several families start the school year without the means for purchasing new school supplies and other items, said Jackie Sasser, the fair’s coordinator. Assistance with those items allows schoolchildren from low-income households to start the year “out on a good note,” she said.
“That’s where the community steps in,” Sasser said. “We step in to make a difference.
“If we can help some of the less fortunate to feel good about themselves, that’s what it’s all about.”
There’s a certain confidence factor for students who can walk into a classroom and have the same supplies as their peers, said Kevin Roden, City Council member for District 1, which includes Southeast Denton.
“This is a great confidence booster,” he said of the fair.
If each individual who has the means to do so could donate, there should not be a child without supplies this school year, Roden said.
“Education is the No. 1 way for people to break out of the cycle of poverty,” he said. “The No. 1 thing a community can do is rally around kids to get a good education. We’re all affected by the education of our kids.”
Last year’s fair assisted 1,200 Denton County schoolchildren. Organizers say that while assistance is available for all the county’s schoolchildren, they expect that the majority of those helped will be elementary school students.
This year’s fair is scheduled to provide free food, drinks and games in addition to school supplies, which children will have a chance to stuff into their backpacks at fair vendor booths, according to organizers.
Sasser said students must be present at the fair to receive a backpack. Children who attend will also be eligible for other giveaways, including 10 bicycles and eyeglasses for an estimated 100 to 200 children.
For the first time, children who attend the fair will be administered free eye exams, and if needed, free glasses will be made on site at a mobile eye clinic, Sasser said. Parents and guardians must accompany children to the eye clinic and present identification.
Sasser said pre-registration for the free event got under way in May and has continued throughout the summer. In addition to assisting those who have already registered, fair organizers will look to assist as many low-income families with supplies as possible, she said.
“We don’t want any child to be left behind,” Sasser said.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
HOW TO HELP
Backpack donations can be dropped off at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, located at 1300 Wilson St., or North Texas Hospital at 2801 S. Mayhill Road. For more information, call 940-349-8575 or 940-220-0604.