The dog days of summer are winding down and the children of Newton County return to school in less than two weeks.
With the return to the classroom comes back-to-school shopping. Parents will soon rush retail centers in hopes of locating the best deals on school supplies.
On Saturday, Main Street Covington and the Washington Street Community Center, along with more than a dozen local partners, will team up to help relieve the financial burden for those families in need by holding the annual Back 2 School Downtown Block Party on the square.
The four-hour event begins at 5:30 p.m. and serves a dual role.
Main Street Covington Director Josephine Kelly and WSCC Director Bea Jackson have been busy preparing the day's events and said the block party assists families easing back into schools while providing a fun atmosphere for all involved.
"We want to make sure that our school children in this community go back to their schools prepared and feel a part of the classroom," Kelly said. "If a child goes back to school and doesn't have the right equipment, they aren't quite back into the swing of things."
Businesses and volunteers have donated school supplies and book bags which volunteers will distribute at the event. Last year, volunteers gave away 300 book bags at the block party. This year, Jackson has raised the goal and said the group's effort is poised to nearly double the amount.
"Children will be able to register to receive one of 500 book bags complete with supplies," Jackson said. "We did great last year, but we wanted to do even more this time around."
Jackson, along with Carolyn Hightower, will fill the bags based on grade level and distribute them to Newton County elementary students accordingly. To receive a bag, parents must register their child as early as possible once they arrive. Color-coded bracelets will be given to the first 500 children on a first-come-first-serve basis, and bags will be handed out later in the day.
"We are lacking in certain areas with the supplies," Jackson said. "Our local partners have come through and will give away a lot of items, but we still need help to reach our goal and anyone can donate."
Jackson added the economy has taken its toll on the group's efforts, but she is still busy securing donations from businesses throughout the county and is confident people will continue to come forward to help.
"Quite frankly, with the economy as it is this year, people haven't been able to do as much as they have in the past," Jackson said. "We have been able to seek out new partners and a lot of churches have come through and picked up where some of the other businesses couldn't."
The square will be bustling with activity beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the event will feature community partners who have come together to offer information on their services and the many causes they represent.
Volunteer partners will set up tents around the square and parents can visit the various displays with their children. Plenty of freebies including T-shirts, cookies, Gatorade, candy and temporary tattoos will be available and activities such as puppet shows, inflatable activity houses and story-telling sessions promise to entertain the children.
Among the many volunteers, members from the Newton High football team will be out Saturday aiding in the preparation. Players will help setup tents and tables and be on hand to direct visitors. The city will close the square at 4:30 p.m. in order to allow volunteers to setup the area.
A final event schedule is in the works and will be confirmed later this week. Please read Friday's edition of the News for a complete rundown of the events scheduled and more details on the participating organizations. For more information, contact Josephine Kelly at (770) 385-2077 or visit www.downtowncovington.org.