NEW LEXINGTON — The Perry County Jobs and Family Services (JFS) held its annual Back to School Bash at the Perry County Fairgrounds last week. The event was scheduled for the evening and more than 800 people were pre-registered for the charitable event.

The Back to School Bash is one of the biggest charitable events in the Perry County area. It aims to serve the most individuals. Along with getting students and families the resources they need for school, there were also several other tables set up.

The event was organized by Perry County JFS and its main mission is to serve the community. The federally funded agency provides a support system that is aimed for children, adults and families. The county administered agency also receives funding from the state and county resources.

The event began at 3 p.m. on Wednesday with hundreds gathering outside the barn of the Perry County Fairgrounds. Families who were financially eligible pre-registered for the charitable event in June. With the event, families and children get school supplies as well as a free pair of shoes and a free haircut. In the past, New Lexington Superintendent Casey Coffey partakes in getting his haircut along with the children who came to the event.

Several vendors were also present at the event. The New Lexington School District had a table set up inside the barn at the fairgrounds passing out free books to not only students, but also to parents in an effort to promote literacy for all ages. Erin Shumaker is a teacher at New Lexington and she, along with Ann Hankinson, greeted families who were interested in getting a free book for the start of the school year.

The books that were available for all were obtained through a financial literacy grant that the school district applied for. The books ranged from kindergarten all the way through high school reading levels. Each child, including parents chose from a wide array of different genres.

“The more the kids are reading, the better they will do in all subject areas,” Schumaker told The Perry County Tribune. “The more books that they are exposed to, especially at an early age, will set them up to succeed all the way through.”

The reason for promoting adult literacy also goes back to the young students. Schumaker stated that when children see their parents read, it promotes growth in the classroom. All the books that were given out were free. The only thing families had to do was choose a book that interested them.

Schumaker emphasized the importance of the Back to School Bash as it benefits those who are in need of school supplies.

“It’s extremely important,” Schumaker said. “A lot of our families need something like this to make sure that their kids are coming back to school with everything that they need.”

This is the first year that the New Lexington Schools has donated books at the Back to School Bash and Schumaker stated that the people who came up to the table were “very appreciative.”

The event brings in many residents throughout Perry County. Amber Pargeon and her son, Jadon Pargeon, are preparing for this upcoming school year getting books, supplies and shoes. Amber stated that she came to the event because her son needed school supplies, something that is very difficult for her to afford. She stated that she is “very grateful” for the staff at Perry County JFS for their support for citizens who struggle like herself.

“Out of the 10 years they’ve been doing it, I have only missed two years,” Amber told The Perry County Tribune. “It helps a lot of families out and there’s more people out there that are worse off than I am.”

Amber emphasized that residents who are in need of financial help when it comes to school supplies should reach out to JFS, even if and when the event is far over. Last year, Amber missed out on the back to school event and she stated that JFS was able to assist her in getting school supplies for her children.

Back to School Bash has gained popularity since its origination over 10 years ago. Cheryl Boley, director of Perry County JFS and Transit, stated that when she started working, she saw a need for students getting the necessary school supplies. She, along with her staff, started holding the Back to School Bash at Saint Rose. Boley stated that there was an “overwhelming” response from the community.

“We want to make sure that if someone presents a need, that they are getting what they should receive,” Boley said.

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