More than 800 backpacks distributed at Back to School Fair

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Donated school supplies are giving hundreds of area children the tools they need to start the school year.

Supplies donated during the Stuff the Bus event over the weekend were distributed at a Salvation Army event Thursday. 

The Salvation Army’s Back to School Fair provides backpacks filled with necessary school supplies for area families in need. 

One woman at the event said kids receive almost all the supplies they need at the fair. 

“Last year when we came, they got the spirals, pencils, ink pens, rulers, glue, crayons, markers, they got just about everything they needed,” she said. “I think it’s really good because there’s a lot of kids and a lot of people that can’t afford to go buy school supplies because they’re so expensive.” 

Salvation Army Major Abe Tamayo said the backpacks include supplies depending on age and need including calculators and mathematical compasses. 

“It’s really exciting to do the distribution, it’s almost like Christmas in August when the children come through with their family (to) receive their supplies,” Tamayo said. “We also have a variety of vendors that volunteer their time and surplus materials, that come in and distribute to children and families but also bring an education component. You might have a medical person, we have someone testing hearing for children, we have various service entities in the community and energy conservation (education) is being offered to people to help them minimize their living allowances they’re provided with and learn to live on a budget and have better resources.” 

More than 29,000 items were donated with over 800 backpacks filled for the students. Tamayo said they appreciate the support for the Salvation Army from the St. Joseph community. 

“The Back to School Fair has gone on for a lot of years and in more recent years in cooperation with the United Way and Stuff the Bus, so we appreciate that,” Tamayo said. “Of course we provide services 365 days of the year, 24-hours a day, so the support is critical and we appreciate any gift that people send our way.” 

Families in need of assistance are urged to call The Salvation Army at (816)232-5824. 

The first day of class for the St. Joseph School District is Monday.