Free event will provide school supplies; event will have food, games

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

All Jim Wells County students are encouraged to join the fun this Saturday at the second annual Jim Wells County Back to School Bash, hosted by the JWC Juvenile Probation Department.

The celebration begins at 3 p.m. with fun, food and games for all kids, free of charge. On Aug. 4, Anderson Park in Alice will definitely be the the place to be, JWC Director of Juvenile Probation James Schmidt said.

"We will have T-shirts for the first 200 kids who arrive, and we should have enough school supplies for 1,000 students," Schmidt said.

Although getting much-needed school supplies to students is a goal of the event, even those students who are already loaded up and ready for school should attend the event, Schmidt said, just to have fun.

The Anderson Park Swimming pool will be open, free of charge to children, from 3 to 8 p.m. during the event, and there will be several fun games, such as the football throw, bowling, putt-putt, a dunking booth and more.

There will also be free food and sodas, along with candies and other treats available. Everything at the event is free. There will also be a cookie-eating contest for the kids.

Radio station KUKA will be in attendance with a live remote from 3 to 5 p.m., followed by a DJ for the rest of the afternoon to supply music for the partygoers.

There will also be several important services available for the students, such as free haircuts supplied by students from the Vanguard Beauty College and free immunizations for students by health officials with the Texas State Department of Health Services.

Parents should remember to bring immunization records for their students to the event, Schmidt said. A blood drive will also take place at the event for any interested older students or parents willing to donate.

All the students will receive raffle tickets for drawings during the day. Prizes include 25 backpacks purchased for the event and a boys and girls bicycle.

"Other vendors and organizations out there will also have little freebies they'll be giving out during the day, as well as information about their organization," Schmidt said.

Also, anyone interested in donating new or used school uniforms should bring them by the event or by the juvenile probation office anytime, for students in the county who will have need of them this coming school year.

Schmidt said the department is always in need of such items for Jim Wells County students. All sizes will be accepted.

The Alice Fire Department will be on site, allowing students the opportunity to get up close to a department fire truck, and the Alice High School Cheerleaders will be there to perform for the kids.

"This event is open to the whole county, not just students from Alice," Schmidt said.

"We'd like to see kids from Orange Grove, Premont, Ben Bolt and La Gloria come out as well. They don't need to come out for the school supplies, they can come just to have a good time."

Last year, $6,000 was raised for the event, and nearly 400 students attended.

This year, sponsor support was very generous, with $10,000 raised for the event, and Schmidt said he'd like to see attendance reach 1,000 students.

Any unused funds will carry over to next year's event, and any undistributed school supplies will be allocated to area school districts this fall.