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Backpacks go quickly at Prescott back-to-school event

Peyton Rutter and other Prescott Unified School District families pick up backpacks stuffed with school supplies for each of their PUSD students on Wednesday July 24, 2019.  (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Peyton Rutter and other Prescott Unified School District families pick up backpacks stuffed with school supplies for each of their PUSD students on Wednesday July 24, 2019. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

In one hour on Wednesday morning, the Prescott Unified School District Family Resource Center distributed 400 backpacks for elementary to high schools students stuffed full with school supplies to help students be ready for the first day on Aug. 1.

Center Coordinator Kelly Mattox said the response went beyond all expectations. After that first hour — the event was scheduled to last four hours — virtually nothing was left for the later-comers, she said. So Mattox and her volunteers created a waiting list for families still in need of supplies.

As this was the first time the center did a full-district outreach, Mattox said it was a learning experience. She said she appreciated all the donors and groups that assisted with the effort — The Heights Church did all the filling of backpacks — and the patience of families that waited in long lines.

She is now working with the Prescott Education Foundation to assure any families unable to get their backpacks and supplies can do so. She said she expects next year the distribution event will be revamped with a bigger venue and a method suitable to assure all those in need go home with a full, new backpack.

“What we found is that there is a greater need than we expected,” Mattox said.

One potential source for those unable to be served in Prescott is an event on Saturday, July 27, organized through the Yavapai Food Bank.

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Aden Bowman and Blake Belmore pick out their backpacks as Prescott Unified School District families pick up backpacks stuffed with school supplies for each of their PUSD students on Wednesday July 24, 2019, at the PUSD District offices on Gurley Street. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Through its Start-Right program, the food bank has collected some 1,300 backpacks filled with school supplies and will distribute to “kids in need” between kindergarten and 12th grade between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Findlay Toyota Center on North Main Street in Prescott Valley. Parents must bring valid identification for any children who are not in attendance.

For the past six years, the food bank has offered a back-to-school program.

This is the second year that the staff and volunteers have organized a distribution event at a separate location from the food bank.

Assistant Director Lynn Passfield said this program is aimed at every low-income family in Yavapai County, not just food bank clients.

Humboldt Unified School District and Chino Valley Unified School Districts also will be doing backpack and school supply distributions for their students.

Humboldt will offer a back-to-school resource and wellness fair from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1, at the HUSD district office on North Robert Road in Prescott Valley. Students will be able to get free, fully stocked backpacks as well as taste healthy foods to sample. Families also can obtain referrals to other needed community resources.

In Chino Valley, the backpacks and school supplies will be handed out during the Meet the Teacher presentations at the various schools on Thursday, Aug. 1: 1 to 3 p.m. at Territorial Early Childhood Center; 2 to 4 p.m. at Del Rio Elementary School; 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Heritage Middle School; 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Chino Valley High School.

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