With a cooler-style backpack in one hand and a big smile on his face, Maison Schachtner, 11, and his parents, Rob and Linda Schachtner, participated in the fifth annual We Care event at the Abundant Life Church on Saturday morning.

Open to schoolchildren in Newton and McDonald counties, the event gave them the chance to get free school supplies, haircuts, vision screenings and more.

It was the first time the Schachtners have participated in the event.

“This event is very important, it has been a real blessing, really, truly,” said Linda. “Things are getting so tight anymore, this is just a real blessing, and it helps out tremendously. Money is tight, I think that is with everybody, though.”

The event was held at the church from 9 a.m. to noon. People were shuttled over from the Newton County Health Department’s parking lot to the event.

“We are here just pretty much for the school supplies,” said Rob. “Maybe get a haircut (for Maison).”

Rob said they usually pay about $30 for school supplies for Maison.

“Then you have pants $15 a pair just starting off, then you have socks, shirts, undies, shoes and shoes run anywhere from $20-40,” Linda added. “Mainly, it is everything up front (on the clothing and supplies). Maybe just something here and there (during the year).”

Asked how much they saved Saturday, Rob said, “with everything, about $100. That is just one child.”

Both Rob and Linda noted they never had anything like this when they were growing up.
“It is pretty nice that people volunteer to help you out,” Rob said.

After the We Care event, it was time for Maison to go through his new items and get them ready for the Aug. 14 start date in the fifth grade here in Neosho.

“I like science class,” he said. “Because I like it, it is interesting and I like history too.”

More than 1,200 children took part in last year’s event. In an earlier interview, organizers said they expected just as many this year.

Other activities included finger printing, snacks, inflatables, and a petting zoo, all free of charge.

Brenda Johnson, event organizer, told the Neosho Daily News on Thursday that 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.

Abundant Life also partnered with Crosslines Ministries this year, with Crosslines holding a shoe drive to benefit the We Care Fair. In the past, Crosslines held their shoe drive at Walmart.