This past weekend, the 2020 Back 2 School Festival provided over 1,400 Watauga County students with all the supplies they need for the new school year. This year marked the first drive-thru event in the festival’s seven-year history, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All participants were required to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing in compliance with directives issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. Local schools were given specific pick-up times on August 7th and 8th in order to spread the crowd out over two eight-hour days.
“This was absolutely the biggest turnout we’ve ever seen.” Said Festival Coordinator, Kendra Sink. “We’ve had so much more need in our community this year because of the coronavirus, and it was incredible watching everyone come together to make sure our kids have everything they need for school this year.”
The massive turnout for the event was an increase of more than 200 children over last year, according to festival organizers. Students were supplied with everything from backpacks, shoes, erasers, notebook paper, headphones, pencil boxes, crayons, glue sticks, and more, making sure each child who attended the festival received all the required supplies on their school’s lists.
This year’s festival required a team of more than 110 volunteers to plan, set-up, direct traffic flow, register participants, hand out supplies and shoes, and clean up. “We could not have done this without the support of our community” said publicity coordinator, Matthew Lucas. “This really was a community effort. 2020 has thrown us a lot of curveballs, but I’m so proud of our team for pulling off such a well-organized event. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received.”
The 2020 Back 2 School Festival was sponsored in part by Mast General Store, Boone Sunrise Rotary, Alliance Bible Fellowship, AppHealthCare, Boone United Methodist Church, Blue Ridge Energy, Mount Vernon Baptist Church, Quiet Givers, Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church, Goodwill, and Walmart, along with many other local businesses, organizations, and individuals.
The Back 2 School Festival was created in 2013 as a collaborative effort between Quiet Givers, the Children’s Council, Hospitality House, and Western Youth Network to address the need for school supplies in our area, providing the supplies free of charge for any Watauga County student whose family is struggling to meet the high cost of back to school shopping. You can learn more by visiting www.back2schoolfestival.org.