Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Organizers of an annual Children's Health & Events Fair in Jacksonville will meet today to begin preparing for the Aug. 1 event, slated from 4-8 p.m. at the Norman Activity Center.
The fair, which supplies children in need with backpacks, school supplies and clothing, is a joint effort spearheaded by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church and The Clothes Closet and More. Local businesses, such as Harry's Building Material, and organizations (the Chamber's Adopt a School committee) also throw their support behind the event, said Chamber President Peggy Renfro.
“Our goal this year is to provide 500 students with backpacks and clothing,” she said. “Over the past couple of years we have been able to do that because of donations from and involvement by the community to help make this a reality.
Launched in 2005, the fair helps families shoulder the cost of back-to-school purchases like supplies, book bags and clothing.
“It was actually organized by Father Mark (Kusmirek, pastor of the local Catholic Church), whose goal was to provide additional information for students prior to the beginning of the school year,” Renfro said.
The event has grown into one with vendors providing information, demonstrations on health and safety, and entertainment.
In past years, it was held on a weekend, but this year, coordinators chose Aug. 1, a Thursday, “to maybe get other vendors interested in participating after hours on a weekday, rather than a weekend,” she explained. “And we know that some parents work on Saturdays, so the extended hours on a weekday can help accommodate them, too.”
While the fair is a little over a month away, volunteers are being sought to help prepare backpacks and clothing.
To help, contact the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, 903-586-2217.