RINCON — The age of COVID-19 has created the need for a longer list of school supplies.
In addition to free staples like pencils and paper, Ready2CONNECT will distribute hand sanitizer and masks during its Back2School Blowout at on July 31 at a site that remains to be determined.
Ready2CONNECT Executive Director Destiny Bradshaw and United Way Area Director Elizabeth Waters have been scrambling to find personal protection gear. Five hundred bottles of sanitizer have been acquired and a great deal more is needed.
“As students are going back to school, we still have to be mindful of the teachers,” Bradshaw said. “We want to make sure the teachers can’t start the year and finish the year, too — and parents as they visit schools.”
Bradshaw expects another large crowd at the annual event.
“We are preparing for 1,000 students,” she said. “Last year, I think we had 800.”
Traditionally, the Back2School Blowout features many vendors and free haircuts. The COVID-19 pandemic precludes the on-site participation of vendors this year, however, reducing it to a drive-through event.
“Everyone is trying to figure out a new normal,” Bradshaw said.
Blowout volunteers will distribute vendor vouchers, including offers for free haircuts. Restaurant participation is also expected.
“It’s been amazing,” Bradshaw said. “We have new donors, volunteers and companies who have filled in the gaps with supplies.”
Manna House Ministries will hand out meals bags.
“Before, they handed out fruits and juices — the kinds of items that students going back to school would use for snacks,” Bradshaw said.
The event will benefit from Manna House’s experience dealing with large crowds. Since the pandemic started, it has routinely distributed groceries to 300-500 clients during food drives.
“There is no need to reinvent the wheel completely,” Bradshaw said. “(Manna House) has already been doing this. I really wanted them on board.”
Bradshaw was unable to get approval of a traffic plan from the Rincon City Council in order to host the event at Rincon Elementary School. Now she is seeking approval to conduct the event at Effingham County School
“We know we are going (July 31) from 6-8 p.m.,” she said.
Bradshaw said that she still needs more volunteers, especially for the “Trunk Patrol,” and financial or product donations. Call 912-295-2148 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.