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A&B Kia in Benwood Donates $15,000 to Marshall County ‘Back-to-School Fun Fair’

Photo by Joselyn King Mike Ferns Jr., owner of A&B Kia, left, presents a check for $15,000 to Susie Baker, parent educator for Marshall County Schools to assist with the school district’s “Back-To-School Fun Fair” on July 28.

BENWOOD — A&B Kia is helping out once again to make certain Marshall County youths have what they need to start school next fall.

Mike Ferns Jr., owner of A&B Kia, on Tuesday presented a check for $15,000 to Marshall County Schools to make its annual “Back-To-School Fun Fair” happen this summer.

The event is slated for July 28, 2021 at the former West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville.

Students who attend will receive free school supplies, as well as health and hygiene items such as soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant. There will be dental checks and haircuts available to students.

Non-perishable food items such as peanut butter and jelly, bread, mac and cheese, cereal, and breakfast bars also will be distributed. Those attending also will get the chance to be linked up with more than 50 outside social agencies where they can get additional assistance.

Last year’s event was a drive-through distribution, with more than 1,300 students coming through the line, according to Susie Baker, parent educator for Marshall County Schools.

This year’s back-to-school event will be the 21st organized by Marshall County Schools, and A&B Kia has been a strong supporter for more than a decade, she said.

“Without A&B Kia helping, we would not be able to do the extras we do at the Fun Fair,” Baker said. “A lot of times when you write for grants, you have to use the money just for school supplies.

“But with Mr. Ferns and A&B Kia helping, I am able to get the clothes, the food and the hygiene items. Without his donation, we wouldn’t be able to buy those.”

Ferns Jr. said his father, Mike Ferns Sr., established a relationship with Marshall County Schools and Baker more than 10 years ago. She now also organizes the dealership’s annual Christmas project to help children.

“As a business owner, you are approached all the time for donations,” Ferns Jr. said. “Then you think, ‘Did I do that effectively? Is that money really going to be spent to help people?’

“With Susie, you know the money is being used effectively and spent locally.”

Ferns Jr. said he has attended some of the back-to-school events.

“It will open your eyes,” he said. “It makes you really see that you’re blessed. You see people need help — and maybe this year they’ll need a little more help than most.”

Baker grew up one of 11 children, and said she was one of those students who didn’t have what they needed to return to school.

“I was one of those kids who wasn’t prepared for school, and I know I felt disappointment,” she said. “I felt I disappointed the teachers.”

It was 21 years ago she started the program “so all students would start school on the same page,” she said.

“We want everyone to start school with dignity, no matter what your income guidelines are,” Baker said.

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