Even though the current school year has yet to end, planning for the fourth annual Watauga County Back 2 School Festival has been going on since January. Last year’s event built upon the success of previous years, with over 850 students receiving backpacks, school supplies, haircuts and lunch during the half-day festival.
“Last year, fifteen percent of Watauga County students attended the festival; however, over 41 percent of students received free or reduced lunch” says Back 2 School Festival coordinator Kendra Sink. “Those numbers alone tell you that we have only begun to scratch the surface of what is truly needed by our families and children.”
The Back 2 School Festival, started in 2013 as a collaborative effort between The Children’s Council, Western Youth Network, Hospitality House, Quiet Givers and Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge, seeks to streamline local school readiness efforts in order to have a greater impact on the community. It was designed to serve any family struggling to afford the high costs of back-to-school shopping in a fun, dignified and respectful environment. Their goal is for all kids to start school feeling confident and prepared for the year ahead.
To ensure that no child walkaway empty handed, event organizers are asking for help from the community.
“We need to raise a minimum of $15,000 in order to meet the demand,” says Children’s Council executive director Crystal Kelly. “With over 31 percent of Watauga County residents living in poverty, this event makes a big difference in the lives of local families.”
Businesses and civic groups can sponsor the festival at various levels between $250 and $5000. For a $100 contribution, individuals can have their name listed on the Donor Board at the festival.
Based on numbers from last year, the average school supplies list contains over 31 items and totals over $100 per child, and that doesn’t include a backpack, clothing, shoes, school fees, field trips, fall sports and school pictures.
Says Angela McMann, director of mentoring services for Western Youth Network; “Donating $100 to the Back 2 School Festival is directly equivalent to helping one child. We operate the festival on a 100 percent volunteer basis. All the money raised is spent helping school children.”
Additionally, kids and teens currently in school are encouraged to reduce, reuse and recycle by taking advantage of the Back 2 School Festival End-of-School Roundup. Beginning May 27, large cardboard boxes will be located outside of each school to collect any unused or gently used items including backpacks, binders, rulers, calculators, scissors, pencil sharpeners and pencil boxes or pouches.
This year’s festival, will take place Saturday, August 13 at Watauga County High School from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Contributions may be made online at http://www.
For sponsorship information and to learn more about the B2S Festival visit, http://www.
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