The 7th annual Back 2 School Festival was held on Saturday, August 10, at Watauga High School, providing school supplies and shoes to over 1,100 area children.
“This is absolutely our biggest event ever.” Said Festival Director Kendra Sink. “1,100 children and their families attended the event. By the time we’re finished packing bookbags and sending them to the schools, the number affected will be much higher.”
With the average cost of school supplies around $160 per child (not including shoes or clothing), the Back 2 School Festival provides relief for families who may be struggling to meet that cost. Its mission is to provide school supplies, new shoes and socks, backpacks, haircuts, activities, helpful information and healthy food in an atmosphere of fun, dignity and respect so that every child in the county can start off the school year confident and prepared with the tools they need to succeed.
Haircuts were sponsored by Boone Service League, who gave out 110 free haircuts and 17 gift cards. Lunch was provided by Mellow Mushroom and served by the Kiwanis Club of Boone, while Subway provided lunch to volunteers. This year the festival raised over $47,000 and recruited hundreds of volunteers to make the event a reality. Major sponsors of the festival include Mast General Store, Watauga County, Chetola Resort, Mount Vernon Baptist Church, 4 Forty Four, North Carolina Community Foundation, Purple Crow, and the George T. Baker Foundation.
“We’re always so amazed at the support from this community.” Said Sink. “It really takes a village to pull this off.” Scott Elliot, superintendent of Watauga County Schools remarked “This is what it looks like when a community loves its children and supports our schools.”
The Back 2 School Festival was founded in 2013 as a collaborative between The Children’s Council, Western Youth Network, Hospitality House, Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge, and Quiet Givers to address the need for school supplies in our area. 2019 was its first year as its own stand-alone non-profit organization.
Photos by Joan Brook: