Schoolchildren in Newton and McDonald counties will have the chance to get free school supplies, haircuts, vision screenings and more at the fifth annual We Care Fair, scheduled for tomorrow at Abundant Life Church, 700 Spencer Drive in Neosho.
The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon, and attendees are asked to park at the Newton County Health Department, 812 W. Harmony Street, where they will board a bus to shuttle them to the fair.
Brenda Johnson, event organizer, said last year's fair served more than 1,200 kids, and she expects just as many this year.
"We had probably 510 pre-register this year," Johnson said. "Last year we had maybe 580 sign up and we had 1,280 bags go out."
The church held pre-registration events in July, though children are not required to be pre-registered to benefit from Saturday's community event.
Those who are pre-registered will be able to collect their school supplies upon arrival, while those not registered will have to wait until after 11 a.m. to pick up supplies.
"For the ones that pre-registered, we have the school supplies ready and then we do extra school supply bags," Johnson said. "Last year I don't know of anyone that didn't get school supplies."
She said those not pre-registered will sign up at the door, and will be welcome to all of the event's other offerings beginning at 9 a.m.
No identification or paperwork is required to sign a child up, though they must be accompanied by an adult.
In addition to school supplies, the event will also offer clothing items, books, haircuts, vision, dental and hearing screenings, finger printing, snacks, inflatables and a petting zoo, all for free.
Johnson said community organizations, churches and businesses came together to make the event what it is.
"I think every year the community has learned to trust the integrity of the fair and I think that there's more and more people that would like to be a part of it," Johnson said.
She said vision screenings will be provided by the Lion's Club, hearing and dental screenings by Access Family Care, finger printing by the Neosho Police Department, and the petting zoo by the Neosho High School FFA.
In addition, several local cosmetologists will also be on hand to provide free haircuts.
Johnson noted that more than 200 haircuts were given at last year's event.
Abundant Life also partnered with Crosslines Ministries this year, with Crosslines holding a shoe drive to benefit the We Care Fair.
The event also receives school supplies from Neosho Bright Futures' Stuff the Bus supply drive.
"Our second to seventh grade is one group of bags that we do and we were able to put more in them this year than we have in previous years," Johnson noted. "We're really happy about that."
Page 2 of 2 - She said as of Thursday the list of donations included approximately 800 pair of shoes, 800 pair of jeans and 400 coats.
The Red Cross will also be on hand on Saturday hosting a blood drive.
While Johnson said the majority of We Care Fair attendees are students from the Neosho R-5 School District, the event is open to all students pre-school through 12th grade in Newton and McDonald counties.
She said the purpose of the fair is to help area students get excited about learning, while also feeling the support of their community.
"We feel their education is very important," Johnson said. "We just think that is a good example for the kids to see that many people coming together to help them get ready for school and that we do take an interest in them, and that we do care, that's why we call it the 'We Care Fair."
For more information, contact Abundant Life Church at 451-1858.