LUMBERTON — A schools supplies giveaway on Thursday encapsulated the excitement of nearly 20,000 Robeson County students as they gear up to go back to school.
“The back-to-school celebration gives families and children the opportunity to come out and see teachers and principals which builds excitement for the new school year and eases apprehension which starts the year upbeat,” said Melinda Sellers, principal at Carroll Middle School.
As thousands of enthusiastic kids filled the Southeastern Agricultural Event Center for the fifth annual the Public Schools of Robeson County Back to School Celebration, others were there to volunteer their time to help pass out supplies to students.
Amy Haigler, parent coordinator for the 12-hour event, said that there were more than 100 volunteers and numerous sponsors involved for the all-day event. She, along with other parents, helped spearhead the event five years ago with a basic goal in mind.
“We aim for every child to be able to start school with the basic materials they need. It helps parents provide a clear or mesh book bag which is required by the district,” she said.
Haigler estimated 15,000 backpacks were given out on Thursday.
Volunteers like Herman Locklear, who has helped with the program since its beginning, began packaging bags for students on Wednesday, and was at it again Thursday at 6 a.m.
“This event, it’s for a good cause to help students get a jump start on school supplies. It also makes a level playing field for all students to have the basic supplies that they need,” he said.
Felisha Bullard agreed, saying the annual event lends a needed hand to single parents and low-income families in Robeson County who may not be able to afford all that was doled out on Thursday.
Each student who attended the event was given a bag that included supplies such as notebook paper, glue sticks, pens, pencils, and educational activity books. Parents were also given a bag with a homework dictionary, a list of parent night activities, and other district information.
Families also circulated a large room with booths from all of the area schools, meeting with principals, getting students’ teacher assignments and receiving information about individual schools.
In addition to school supplies, snacks and raffle tickets were also given out. The day ended with a raffle for electronic prizes donated by members of the community.
Jack Frederick can be reached at 910-816-1974.