School Supplies Up For Grabs In Marshall County

Whether you love it or hate it, back-to-school shopping season has arrived. Last week, Amazon announced the opening of its Back to School and Off to College stores, and Staples unveiled its 2018 back-to-school collection. Browse the aisles of Walmart and Target and you will find notebooks and backpacks have taken the place of beach towels and bikinis.

I remember the thrill of stocking up on college-ruled loose leaf paper, picking out a binder and color-coordinating folders, grabbing a 10-pack of blue Bic pens, and selecting the all-important, most official, iconic school supply of them all — a pack of Ticonderoga #2 Soft, Yellow, Pre-sharpened pencils. (The smell of a new pack of pencils is one of the greatest aromas in the world.) I must confess that as a teacher, I still get excited about purchasing new school supplies.

Unfortunately, not every family can afford to buy school supplies every year, particularly when they also have to worry about possibly purchasing new school clothes, shoes and backpacks. So many students begin school devoid of supplies. This was unacceptable to Susie Baker, Marshall County Schools Parent Educator Resource Center coordinator, who, in 2000, created the Marshall County Back-to-School Fun Fair.

This year’s 18th annual Marshall County Back-to-School Fun Fair will be held on Wednesday, July 18, at the former West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville from 8 a.m. to noon. The Fun Fair is open to any Marshall County Schools student, pre-K through 12th grade, who is accompanied by an adult. Each child will receive free school supplies such as a backpack, pencils, pens, notebooks and other items.

In addition to school supplies, students also can receive free haircuts, dental and health screenings, and hygiene products. The event will end with a pizza party and drawings students can enter to win some great prizes, including tickets to Kennywood.

Last year, more than 1,200 families took part in the event, and Baker hopes to see that number increase this year. There are no income guidelines to participate; the only requirement is that the student be attending a Marshall County school.

Since its inception, the event has received overwhelming support from community businesses and organizations. “We could not have such a successful fair year after year without our sponsors. Marshall County Schools plays a big part in supporting the fun fair as well as Chevron, the Marshall County Health Department and Mike Ferns at A and B Kia. I could not do any of this without that support,” said Baker. “Some sponsors have been there from the beginning such as Bayer Credit Union, Marshall County Credit Union, BB&T Bank, Reynolds Memorial Hospital/WVU and the Marshall County Family Resource Network.”

A special shout-out goes to the hair stylists from First Impression Salon who for numerous years have donated their time to cut hair during the fair. In all, nearly 50 different agencies will be on hand to assist students and parents during the event.

This endeavor has grown to be one of the largest events in Marshall County, and it all started with one person who decided every child deserves to start school with a nice haircut and new school supplies. Baker is one of Marshall County’s unsung heroes.

When I think of Susie Baker, I am reminded of the quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Her commitment to the students in our community grows stronger with each passing year. She is to be commended for what she has created.

“Susie is an amazing person. She’s mostly known for the Back-to-School Fun Fair, but that is only a small example of how she gives back to the community. Susie helps people on a daily basis. When Susie hears someone is in need, she is finding a way to help,? said Tony Wood, Marshall County Schools communications coordinator. “We are blessed to have Susie as a member of our community. She touches a lot of lives.”

I encourage all Marshall County students and their families to attend the event on July 18, and while you?re there, find Susie Baker and thank her for making our little corner of the world a little bit better.

Jonna Kuskey is an English teacher at John Marshall High School. She was named the 2017 James Moffett Award winner by the National Council of Teachers of English and the third place winner of the 2017 Penguin Random House Foundation Teacher Awards for Literacy.

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