Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Dozens of families braved 90-plus-degree temperatures Friday afternoon for a chance at free back to school supplies.
JONESBORO — Hundreds of people flocked to Battle Creek Library Friday afternoon to get free school supplies, in spite of temperatures in the 90s.
Representatives with host Amerigroup handed out handheld fans and bottled water to families who waited in a line that snaked from the end of the covered sidewalk to the front door. For most, the free notebooks and backpacks were a godsend in a lousy, stagnant economy.
Mary Pearson stood in line with her four children, three of whom are school age.
"I'm just trying to get help with school supplies," said Pearson, fanning herself and trying to keep the kids in line. "I just started working and I don't make enough to get everything."
Pearson said not having to worry about getting school supplies helps her use money for other items.
"If I can get help with the school supplies, I can focus on getting their school uniforms," she said.
It was hot and crowded but the line moved along in an orderly fashion. Families picked up a slip of paper at the entrance to the library and went inside. Once inside, they visited each vendor and got the paper signed. They picked up literature about subjects from recycling to diabetes. Clayton County police officers Gary Syblis and Charlene Watson-Fraser manned a table where they handed out pens, red lollipops and brochures on child safety.
"We're trying to provide as many resources as possible to help out these families," said Syblis. "The police department is supporting these kids as they go back to school."
Christine Debardelaben brought her twin grandchildren to the event. Cortez and Corizma Brown, 10, are headed to fifth grade.
"I love this event," said Cortez Brown. "We get free school stuff and free water. And I'm excited about the bouncy house."
Debardelaben said the kids' mother is a struggling single parent.
"She just started an internship to be a dental hygienist," she said.
Shawnada Burwell heard about the event on the radio and stopped by with her two sons, Isaiah Price, 8, and Antonio Burwell, 10. Both boys got their faces painted in a shaded booth between the bouncy house and popcorn machine.
The free supplies drive was one of several held throughout Clayton County during the summer. Students return to classes Aug. 13.