The High Country is blessed with a variety of local groups that love to work together to make a difference for kids in the community, and they’re coming together next week for the annual Back 2 School Festival.
On Saturday, Aug. 8, the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge, along with Quiet Givers and other local businesses and charities, will host festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Watauga High School.
The festival invites kids and their families, regardless of background, to come and celebrate education. It will provide kids with school supplies of all kinds, back-to-school haircuts and the spirit of optimism and excitement to help kids develop the right attitude about going back to school.
Karen Sabo, executive director of the WFBR, said that education is one of the most important aspects of any child’s life.
“Education is a crucial preventative for all the social problems we face today and that these kids will face later on in life,” Sabo said. “We want to do everything we can to help kids have a positive experience and feel better about themselves as a student and feel good about going back to school.”
Jason Berry, the owner of Footsloggers Outdoor and Travel Outfitters in Boone, will be donating 400 bags in order to supply kids with backpacks. Leading up to the festival, Footsloggers will be accepting donations of $5 in order to help cover the costs of the bags. Along with this, Berry has committed to a three-year Title Sponsorship for the festival, and this will be his second year sponsoring.
The Yadkin Bank of Boone is also thoroughly involved with the festival. Not only will it be sponsoring a radio spot to help promote it, but the bank is also hosting “Pack the Bus” in front of its locations at New Market and on Blowing Rock Road.
PACK THE BUS
Pack the Bus is something the whole community can participate in leading up to the actual festival. According to Mary Louise Roberts, market executive of Yadkin Bank, it’s a simple way to get involved.
“People can just go and step on the bus and leave whatever they want in the seats to help give supplies for the festival,” Roberts said. “It’s really helpful and it’ll make everyone feel like they’re doing something good.”
The bank has been participating in providing locations for the busses for three years now. The busses are unlocked when the bank opens in the morning and are locked up when the bank closes. During the day, anyone who wants to donate supplies can give what they want by simply leaving them in the bus.
Roberts said that the bank is happy to participate in this festival by providing the locations that are easily visible from the road at both locations and the two-hour radio spot, which will help give people the push they need to get involved.
“I’ve always been a supporter of kids and education and I’m so excited that we can be a part of that,” Roberts said. “I believe it’s a community effort, and we’re doing great things.”
Also, with the help of volunteers through the WFBR, the festival offers free haircuts to any child that needs one, as well as gift bags full of shampoo, conditioner and combs to enable kids to keep up their spiffy new appearances, even after they leave.
“A kid feeling good about their appearance is really crucial to them having a good attitude towards school,” Sabo said. “Even something that seems consequential, such as a haircut, can really help a kid feel good about him or herself and start school with a positive attitude.”
While self-confidence is undoubtedly important for kids heading back to school, the festival offers more than just haircuts and beauty supplies. It also offers school supplies to every child in Watauga County that attends the festival and also maintains a fun and festive atmosphere.
Families from all over the county attend the festival every year to join in the celebration of education and generosity.
Amber Bateman, director of Quiet Givers, said that it is hard for any family to supply children with what they need for school, regardless of background and lifestyle.
“We understand how difficult this can be for everyone, dishing out so much money at the start of the year,” Bateman said. “We want everyone to feel welcome.”
According to Sabo, the goal is to provide every child with new supplies, ranging from backpacks to rulers, regardless of socioeconomic background, but also to have fun.
“The thing that we are focusing on is that they have the tools they need. We want to provide help,” Sabo said. “This is a very good community event. It’s like a great big education party! Everyone is welcome to take whatever they need, and it’ll be such a wonderful community environment to get them started off with the right attitude.”
Although it can be difficult for kids to get excited about going back to school, the festival is determined to raise their spirits and keep them in the right mindset. Education is important for young people, and the festival wants to show kids from the community that it can be a great experience, instead of one that they should dread.
“The attitude that the kids start school with is the attitude that they carry with them throughout the whole school year,” Sabo said. “It’s important that they start off with a good one.”
The festival is free and open to all the kids and their families of Watauga County, as are all the supplies that are provided throughout the day.
“You just get to come and have a good time,” Sabo said, “And leave with school swag.”
For more information on the event and how to get involved, visit the Back 2 School Festival website.