Back-to-School Health Fair gears up to give back

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COLUMBIA - On Saturday, the Voluntary Action Center is hosting a Back-to-School Health Fair at Derby Ridge Elementary School.

The Back-to-School Health Fair, which is coordinated by the Family Impact Center, Voluntary Action Center, and the Family Health Center, helps local K-12 students prepare for the new school year. Students at the fair receive free vision and hearing screenings, dental checkups, and mental health exams. They also receive free school supplies and backpacks.

On Friday, volunteers geared up for the fair by stuffing backpacks with school supplies. Lead by Olivia Little, social services specialist and program coordinator at Voluntary Action Center, a group of 15 volunteers prepared the backpacks. This is Little's first year hosting the event, but she knows how important it is to students and parents.

"When I grew up and I was struggling, I know how much I would've wanted an event like this."

Little said volunteers are essential to the Back-to-School Health Fair.

"We just couldn't have the event without them. They'll be directing traffic, answering questions, and just providing any other services that you may need."

Nick Foster, Executive Director of Voluntary Action Center, understands how expensive back to school shopping can be. 

"I think even for a lot of people who may do okay in terms of income, it's a little bit of a barrier to prepare your child."

They're prepared to serve over 800 students tomorrow and Foster just wants it to be a festive atmosphere.

"We're going to have a DJ and there's going to be other activities there for children. It's really a great place to be on a Saturday."

Foster says that anyone who may be apprehensive about coming to the event should know that they're not alone.

"It's not always easy to provide for your child, especially around this time. The fact that you can pick up those school supplies and learn about other helpful programs in the community, it's a win-win."

A child must be present, in order to receive services at the event. If a parent cannot attend, the child must bring the parent's name and social security number to the event.

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