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COLUMBIA - Community organizations and volunteers came together in Columbia to help kids prepare for school this morning.

The 11 Annual Boone County Back to School Health Fair was scheduled to start at 9 a.m.., but a line was already starting to form around 7:00 a.m. The event was also scheduled to end at 1:00 p.m., but volunteers said they would accommodate everyone in line until supplies ran out.

The fair was at the MU Family Impact Center. The event was sponsored by the center, the Voluntary Action Center, and Family Health Center.

Students K-12 and their parents received free school supplies, including backpacks. There were also various complimentary services, including health tests (visual, hearing, and dental screenings) and haircuts. Other organizations were also at the fair providing school supplies, such as Daniel Boone Regional Library giving out books.

Christopher Alejo is a Columbia resident and a father of three children. He said he's come to the fair for several years because of how it brings the community together, particularly parts of the community that do not tend to usually intersect or interact.

"We are one community," Alejo said. "It means that there's a corporate social responsibility on all of us, and even the community at large. The sponsors of this event are doing an awesome job. There's a conclusion of inclusiveness in the community."

Alejo said his children were excited to come and see many of their classmates for the first time since the past school year ended. He said his children were also excited to see friends that they only see at community events such as the health fair. He also said parents are excited about the gift of giving as their children enjoy receiving school supplies and support.

"The gifts bring out the child in everyone," Alejo said. "So the idea that they're taking something new home means a lot to them. I can connect to that when I was a kid too."

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