Fridley Public Schools held its sixth annual Back-to-School Resource Fair on August 26, 2017. Hundreds of families lined the block early that Saturday morning, waiting to receive backpacks and school supplies for their children in preparation for a new school year.
The Back-to-School Resource Fair is an community annual event that support district families by providing school supplies to allow all students to be prepared and successful at school. Local businesses, churches and families donate school supplies and/or give money to be used to purchase backpack items for the fair. Any family with a student enrolled in the district is eligible to attend the Resource Fair and receive a free backpack filled with school supplies.
Family Outreach Liaison Aloda Sims began the initiative six years ago. Sims said the Resource Fair is a great way to kick off the school year and also serves as an opportunity for staff to reconnect with parents and students before the year begins.
Staff set out booths for families to explore which activities and resources are available in the school district. Booths included information on transportation, nutritional services, Fridley Parks and Recreation and many more. Other resources included vouchers for free haircuts.
Sims said one of the best parts about the Resource Fair is seeing the community come together to help serve students in need. She thanked the volunteers who were enthusiastic and excited about contributing to this initiative, as well as all the local churches, businesses and local community groups who donated to the cause.
“That’s the part that gives me so much joy, knowing that we’re able to give back, reach our community and provide those resources that everyone can benefit from,” Sims said. “It’s a great day here for everyone involved.”
Since its beginning, the Resource Fair has grown exponentially, from giving away around 200 backpacks to more than 500.
Sims is excited about the growth, but said not all families in need are being served.
“As we’re walking around and seeing the families that we know may not get a backpack, we’re already planning ahead to talk to other vendors and organizations,” Sims said. “We definitely want to keep this as a sustainable resource for our families. There is a big need, and we would love to fulfill it and continue to bridge that gap for our families.”
This year’s community contributors included: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Michael Servetus Unitarian Church, St. Williams Church St. Phillips Lutheran Church, Center Church, TEKsystems and the local Target and Walmart stores.