The Barry County OACAC Neighborhood Center's 2012 School Readiness Fair served 185 local students this year. The event was held at the Crowder College Cassville Campus Community Building on Aug. 2.
"Everything went really well," said Gail Reed, Barry County OACAC director. "We had a lot of good booths with a lot of good information. We had an ambulance and a patrol car here, which the kids thought was really fun. I was really impressed with all the booths."
Thanks to generous contributions from local business, organizations and individuals, the Neighborhood Center was able to provide school supplies and backpacks for each child who signed up for this year's fair.
"We made a plea for help before the fair, and we got some really good donations of school supplies and cash for backpacks. The community really came through for us."
In addition to backpacks and supplies, each child attending the fair received a folder of brochures that offered information on safety, bullying, parent/child communication and a variety of other topics.
The theme for this year's fair was "Smart Cookies Go Back to School." Children were given cookie passports, which vendors applied stickers to as the kids made their way from booth to booth. Vendors also provided families with gifts and information on local services and organizations.
Free fluoride treatments were offered by ACCESS Family Care. The Lions Club offered free hearing screenings, and the Walmart Vision Center of Monett gave free vision screenings during the fair.
Other local businesses and organizations that participated in the event included: the Cassville Branch Library; the Cassville Family YMCA; the Department of Social Services Family Support Division; the University of Missouri Extension; MPACT; CoxHealth; Crowder College; the Barry County Health Department; Girl Scouts; and Mercy Hospital.
The Cassville United Methodist Church distributed a pair of shoes and socks to each child who attended the fair, and the Barry County Sheriff's Office and Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force offered fingerprinting services and drug awareness information.
Electric Beach also returned to this year's fair to offer each child a free back-to-school haircut.
Families that attended the fair received free information on nutrition, healthcare, children's advocacy services and community programs.
"We had so many volunteers this year, before the fair and on the day of the fair," said Reed. "They really helped things run smoothly. We appreciate each one of them."
Community members volunteered free time to pack school supply bags, prepare brochure packets, transport supplies to the Cassville Campus, register children, help vendors, cook and hand out supplies.
Volunteers who assisted with the 2012 School Readiness Fair included: Nancy Horner, Bernice Burnette, Michael Ayers, Lealoni Ayers, Chloe Brothers, Melissa A. Jones, Marcia Hendrix, Sylvia Phillips, Ann Wilson, Janet McNeill, Jake McNeill, Natalie McNeill, McKayla Harvey, Donna Youngblood, Shawnee Youngblood, Shawna Lombard, Ethan Lombard, McKayla Lombard, Rian Lombard, Andrea Bland, Brandon Burns, Tony Bland, Jacey Gundel, Kade Reed, Klay Reed, Allie Reed and Gwen Ambrose.
Neighborhood Center staff member Julie Bland organizes the annual back-to-school fair. She is assisted by staff member Debbie Gemmecke and Reed.
For more information on the back-to-school fair, visit the Neighborhood Center, which is located on Highway 248 in Cassville, or call 847-2140.