Back to School Orange County will hold its annual school supply giveaway on Saturday, Aug. 13, inside the Student Center of Lamar State College-Orange. Pre-registration for this annual event is encouraged and ends Thursday, July 28. Limited registration is available on the day of the event.

Pre-registration continues for school supplies

By Tommy Mann Jr.

The Record

The start of the 2016-2017 school year is only a few weeks away, and that means it is time to begin gathering school supplies for each student.

Despite the excitement of the first day of school and obtaining new supplies, many families and children may be forced to do without because of lack of funds. However, a coalition of local businesses and churches are making sure that does not happen.

Back to School Orange County is once again preparing for its annual school supply giveaway for Orange County students. The event will take place from 9 a.m. – noon, Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Lamar State College-Orange Student Center, which is located at the corner of Green Avenue and Fourth Street in downtown Orange.

“The main purpose of this event is to get supplies to the students who need them,” said Steven Burke, Back to School Orange County event coordinator. “We don’t want them to have to worry about starting school with no supplies or about being different from the other students. We want them to be equal and start the year on a positive note.”

Parents are encouraged to pre-register children to reserve school supplies. Pre-registration continues from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 27 and concludes Thursday, July 28, at Orange Christian Services, 2518 W. Park Ave. in Orange. Limited registration will be available on the day of the event. Students will be served on a first come, first served basis.

All parents and legal guardians must bring proof of the child’s enrollment at a school in Orange County. Items such as a student identification card, a report card or a letter from the school are acceptable.

Parents or legal guardians must be present with children on the day of the event.

The program was created to fill the void of the now defunct Desktop School Supply Program, which was officially canceled in 2011 and supplied children with their basic school supply needs. As a result of its cancellation, many families were left without any way to obtain much needed school supplies for their children.

“This program is definitely needed in our area,” Burke added. The schools don’t have programs like this. A lot of teachers do what they can to help their students, but they can only do so much. Not only does this program help the students and their families, but it helps the schools too.”

According to the official Back to School Orange County website, the goal of the program is to make sure no child is left empty-handed when it comes time to start school. By assisting these children now, the program hopes the support of positive individuals will encourage the children to live out their hopes and dreams. As a result of this program and the support of these people, it is hoped the children will develop into the next generation of business people, entrepeneurs, industrial workers and homemakers.

In 2015, Back to School Orange County provided approximately 1,500 bags of school supplies to children. The program also provided 144 free hair cuts, 70 vision screenings, 50 immunizations to 30 students, as well as free children’s books, socks and underwear and backpacks to every child which attended the event.

“We expect to see anywhere from 600 to 700 kids come through the doors this year,” Burke said. “It’s a blessing to me and all of the others to be able to do this for the children in our community.”

According to its official website, the combined effort of churches of all denominations, businesses, the Salvation Army of Orange County, Orange Christian Services, Department of Family and Protective Services and area school will help provide much need school supplies for families in need.

It also offers immunizations, hair cuts, socks and underwear and other essential items, as well as information about available services.

Vaccinations are free for students with CHIP and/or Medicaid, provided students have a valid card present at the day of the event. Otherwise, the cost is $20 for one shot, $30 for two shots, or $40 for three or more shots.

Numerous organizations will be on hand to provide information and volunteer to help during the event, and several well known Super Heroes will be in attendance to entertain children and take photographs, such as Iron Man, Captain America, Wonder Woman and even Darth Vader.

“We will have 40 to 50 tables set up in the student center with information on community resources,” Burke added. “Instead of having to drive all over the county to find this information, it will be all in one location.

“Each table will have items for the kids to put in their backpacks too, which they will receive when they come in the door,” he continued. “There’s an estimated $150 to $200 worth of items to go in those backpacks, along with the school supplies.”

Visit backtoschoolorange.com or find backtoschoolorange on Facebook for more information on this event.