The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula hosted the annual Back To School Fair for the Sequim School District at the Carroll C. Kendall Unit on Aug. 24 and, as always, the event was a big hit with parents and students alike, drawing 875 attendees — including about 500 students.
Offering free school supplies to Sequim families, the fair also gives families a chance to connect with numerous community organizations that offer resources to school families. Groups such as the North Olympic Library System, the Sequim Food Bank, Olympic Medical Center, Jamestown Dental, Dungeness Valley Health, Peninsula Behavioral Health, the YMCA and more than a dozen other area organizations were present to talk to families about services they may need.
Several groups, like Sequim’s Little Explorers and Boy Scout Troop 1498, brought different ways to keep kids entertained as they waited as well.
Walmart also sent representatives to provide free haircuts and talk about their eye care services. Free lunches were provided to attendees by the Boys & Girls Club staff.
“We’ve been hosting this for a few years now,” said Boys & Girls Club representative Janet Gray, who oversees much of the process of putting the event together throughout the year.
“Every year it gets a little bigger, but that’s a good thing,” she said. “It’s a good collaboration with a lot of organizations in the community coming together for the same cause.”
Gray said that while there’s about 40 volunteers running the event itself, she and about 10 others work on it throughout the year.
This year, school supplies went fast.
“We ran out of almost everything,” said Mary Budke, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.
“What’s left is getting boxed up to take to the schools so they can have extra supplies on hand.”
According to Gray, almost 500 bags of school supplies were given out on Saturday.
“The gratitude of the students was amazing,” she said. “A lot of them couldn’t even express what they felt.”
Budke said that in the coming months, more supplies will be purchased to keep on-hand.
“This event isn’t a one-and-done thing,” Budke said. “We’ll have more supplies for when kids need more, or need to replace a backpack or whatever they need.”
New Sequim School District interim superintendent Rob Clark said he was impressed with the event.
“I’ve been to a lot of back to school fairs, but nothing quite on this scale,” Clark said during the event. “This is great to see the community come together like this to support our students.”
The Sequim School District, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, Parenting Matters Foundation/First Teacher and other groups collaborated to put together the event and provide resources and supplies at no cost to the families who needed them.