By Adrienne Fouts
As autumn approaches, countless families will find themselves struggling to meet the demands that come with starting a new school year: their children need new clothes and fresh haircuts along with the items on long lists of school supplies. For many residents of Watauga County (31 percent of whom live below the national poverty level) and the rest of the High Country, the financial burden of back-to-school shopping can become overwhelming, and children often go without the things they need for a successful school year.
The Watauga Back 2 School Festival and Avery County Back to School Bash exist to help ease that financial burden for families in need. These festivals will both be held on Saturday, August 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Watauga High School and Avery County High School, and aim to provide local children with everything they need to begin the school year feeling confident and prepared.
These back-to-school festivals rely on the support of businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the High Country in order to make the events successful. There are several ways to donate or get involved, so that everyone can contribute to making a difference in these families’ and schoolchildren’s lives.
Organizations are invited to host a booth at the Back 2 School Festival, sharing information about their organization while providing some sort of activity or craft to add to the festival atmosphere. In addition, organizations can host collections of specific supplies in the weeks leading up to the festival, or they can become a sponsor of the festival.
Local stylists are asked to donate free haircuts at the festival in order to help children feel confident as they walk in the classroom on their first day.
The whole community is also invited to pack the bus! School buses will be located at the Yadkin Banks on Blowing Rock Road and New Market Center; community members can bring school supplies to the buses during business hours. There will also be Goodwill boxes at the buses for any thrift store donation items; these items will be exchanged for gift cards that the Back 2 School Festival will give to families. Community members can also bring items to the Goodwill stores in Boone and specify that they are donations for the festival.
To help out the Avery County Schools Back to School Bash, consider attending one of the Pack the Canoe Benefit Concerts, presented by Beech Mountain Parks & Recreation and part of the summer concert series at Fred’s Mercantile. At the concerts, held on Sunday, July 31 and Sunday, August 7 at 6:30 p.m., there will be a canoe to fill with school supplies for Avery County children. Donations can be made at the concerts held at Fred’s Mercantile Gazebo or at Buckeye Recreation Center during regular operating hours. Call 828-387-3003 or visit beechrecreation.org for more information.
For more ways to donate or volunteer and to learn more about the Watauga Back 2 School Festival, visit back2schoolfestival.org, call 828-262-5424 or email [email protected] For more information about the Avery County Back to School Bash, call 828-733-6006.
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