By CHERIL VERNON
In order to help local families faced with economic hardships, the Palestine Junior Service League will host its 13th annual Back to School Fair on Saturday, Aug. 10.
“It’s always very touching to see the community and the need there is. So many of them are very, very thankful and show their appreciation,” PJSL Back to School Fair Co-chair Alana Varela told the Herald-Press. “Every parent knows that getting your kids ready for school can be a very expensive task. This relieves a little bit of that burden for them.”
The PJSL Back to School Fair will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 10 at the Palestine Junior High Cafeteria, located on Ben Milam Drive.
“We have expanded this year, offering more supplies than we have given out in the past. We also are offering free haircuts to the students, as well as spinal checks, eye checks and dental checks,” Varela said. “We will have refreshments and fun activities for the kids too.”
Last year, the PJSL passed out about 720 backpacks full of school supplies.
Families who are eligible for AFDC/food stamps, free or reduced-price federal lunch program will qualify for free school supplies for their school-aged children (grades K-12) who are registered and attend public school in Anderson County.
Parents will need to bring the following:
• Proof of residency — utility bill or mail postmarked in June or July
• Parent/legal guardian picture identification
• Each child’s social security card or birth certificate and case number for TANF, AFDC or food stamps
• Children must be present
“We do need to have the proper documentation. If they don’t have it or don’t bring the child, we will put their name on the list if we have leftovers at the end of the day,” Varela said. “It is first-come, first serve. Sometimes people get there very early, so we will be there passing out water.”
PJSL members, as well as volunteers from Southside Baptist Church and other churches and youth organizations, will work together during the Back to School Fair to assist the families.
“We would like to credit the Palestine Independent School District’s cosmetology department for assisting us along with the hair dressers offering their services,” Varela said. “We have a lot of volunteers in the community that will be coming out to help. Our whole PJSL spends two days working to get everything ready. Quite a bit goes into it.”
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office also provides security for the event.
In addition to school supplies, the PJSL will offer free coats to children who need them through its Spread the Warmth program. These are coats that have been collected and professionally cleaned.
“Throughout the school year we get in touch with Anderson County school counselors and nurses. As the weather gets colder, we have an ‘x’ amount of children who don’t have any coats. We will purchase new coats if we don’t have any in our stock and divvy those out to the school districts.”
Varela’s co-chair for the Back to School Fair is Monica Vaesa.
For more information about the event, call Varela at 903-948-7388.