We made it to get free school supplies! I posted it as soon as a friend told me they had heard about this event. It has been a regular occurance the last few years in July. So I figured I’d check it out and see what this event meant.
When I arrived there was a small line out of the door but it moves quickly. Once I came inside we were handed a paper with all of the vendor’s names. Unfortunately you had to talk to 10 vendors and get a signature before you received the supplies. I will say that this seems to be a common thing now. We had to do the same at the summer camp fair in order to enter for a prize drawing. It’s tedious and often has me weighing the work and giving out my information (not all required this) vs reward. The work was, if you arrived early you received little giveaways at the different booths. Anything from books, folders, school supplies, candy, bracelets and I believe I heard someone say you could win a Wal-mart gift certificate in the hospitality room.
I was able to connect with a lot of new organizations. To make a few on site were the Sickle Cell foundation (walk-a-thon Sept. 15), the Reading Literacy program (they send free books until your child is 5 (click here for more info), Girls Inc, The Boys and Girl’s Club, Girl Scouts (offering a 2 year membership for the price of one), Albany State, Muscogee school district, Project Launch (a resource that can help if you suspect developmental delays), an Autism table and more. One organization I learned about today was Mickinney-Vento. This is a jewel for children whose families have fallen on hard times and need uniforms and school supplies. They’re located next to the main library. Anything from parents experiencing a job loss, fires to homelessness can qualify for these resources.
Once at least 10 vendors have signed your paper, then you were able to enter the lower arena and receive a backpack. They were separated by elementary, middle school and high school. The fire department, Columbus Regional (are they still called that), Amerigroup, discounts for the Columbus Lions game, the mobile Library and more were in the main arena. The children, as always, loved the firetruck. We were in the building around 9:30am (sleepy kids slowed the process), and out a little before 11am. As I was leaving I realized the line was gone. Honestly, I thought it could have been worse (with my two children on the younger end) but, the stroller and snacks helped tremendously.
Over all, when I was there, things moved pretty seamlessly, despite the congestion. One thing I will say is that there was an unclear line to the next table. I couldn’t tell if each table had a line or if there was one line wrapping around the hallway. Outside was the kids’ favorite area. It consisted of games and most of all a bubble machine! Dragging them away from that was quite an effort, unfortunately we were on a time crunch. Ultimately were the free supplies worth the hour and a half process? It was more than supplies, kind of an experience. the resources and networks could be invaluable, the kids were entertained with trinkets along the way, until they reached their backpacks and finally ended with a fun area.
I dont know, what do you think? By the way, if you’d rather buy your own supplies or have more shopping to do, there will not be a tax free weekend this year. However Florida and Alabama have one, both on Aug 3-5, 2018. A detailed post with more on this to come.
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