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Lee County preps for first ever county-wide Back-to-School Bash

Over 80 organizations have supported the event, which will provide free school supplies and health screening to over 500 students.

LEE COUNTY, S.C. — Lee County is hosting a Back-to-School Bash to serve the entire community for the first time as students get ready to go back to school. More than 80 organizations and businesses are uniting to provide free school supplies and free health screening to over 500 students on Saturday.

Lee County Administrator Alan Watkins says this comes at the right time.

"In a rural area like this, inflation has hit hard," Watkins said.

Tracy Powell is the founder of the organization Tomorrow's Leaders. Powell dreamed up this event to unite the community.

"We’ve been through so much with the pandemic, inflation is impacting our rural communities," Tracy Powell said.

To help families get what they need, boxes and bags of school supplies are packed and ready to be given out.

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Christopher Moorman is a senior in the county. He says he is ready to stock up.

"I really don’t know what I need yet," he said. "I’m still trying to figure that out. So hopefully I can get my list of school supplies and get that ready."

His sister Laneese is in third grade. She says she needs binders, folders and some notebooks.

Their grandmother Vernescie says getting these supplies for free is helpful. 

"It helps with the savings definitely because everything is costly," she said. "And this is a resource that helps the parents with the expenses that are involved with your children going to school."

The students aren't the only people talking about the event. Junior Angel Hicks says her teachers have been telling students about it.

"My teachers were talking about it, like, all week," she said. "They were just making sure we had their papers and stuff so we knew like ‘There’s a big event. Make sure you come out."

RELATED: Inflation weighs on back-to-school buying for many families

Powell says in years past, there have been multiple small back-to-school events. This year is different.

"We took this opportunity to come in and really unite everyone in our community to make sure that we can all do it together: one bash, united, all together as Lee County," she said.

While kids pick up school supplies, local organizations will also be providing free health screenings and passing out information. The goal is not only to unite the community, but also to make sure every family gets the help they need.

"It’s not about shame," Powell said. "It’s not about being needy because everyone will be here. Everybody is on the same page, is on the same level, and we’re doing this together."

Superintendent of Education for Lee County School District Bernard McDaniel said he thinks when there is a recognized need, it's up to the community to band together.

"Anything we can do to assist our parents, students in the community, then I think it’s incumbent upon us as community leaders and organizations to provide the assistance and do what we can to alleviate some of the stress for them," McDaniel said.

City of Bishopville Police Chief James Dellinger said he thinks having one big bash may help serve more families.

RELATED: Mom struggling to afford school supplies: 'It makes it feel like you can’t take care of your child'

"I think we’ll have a better reach," Dellinger said. "I think we’ll have a better footprint. I think hopefully we’ll be able to have more individuals here at one time for one event."

The different businesses and organizations will be stationed all along this loop so you can come pick up whatever you need. Each organization will have a different school supply to give out. 

"When kids start a new year, we want them to start prepared and ready to learn," Watkins said.

The event is tomorrow at Chappell Park in Bishopville from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Powell says event organizers are using #TogetherLeeCounty to encompass the community-oriented mission of the event.

"The hashtag is just a reminder that we’re all in this together. We’ve made it through the pandemic together, we’ve made it through a number of things here in our community," she said. "And we’re going to make it through the inflation together as well. We’re going to make it through the hard financial times together. We’re going to make it through monkey pox together."

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