published Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Needy kids get school clothing, supplies

Amber Hernandez, left, and Nancy Sutherland of the Southeast Tennessee Human Resources Agency, hold up backpacks remaining after Friday’s Give a Kid a Chance expo at Sequatchie County High School. The organization will offer to supplies to needy children until the start of school.
Amber Hernandez, left, and Nancy Sutherland of the Southeast Tennessee Human Resources Agency, hold up backpacks remaining after Friday’s Give a Kid a Chance expo at Sequatchie County High School. The organization will offer to supplies to needy children until the start of school.

DUNLAP, Tenn. — Breanna Orzco was pushing a stroller and helping her six children visit various booths at the Give a Kid a Chance expo Friday at Sequatchie County High School. As a single mother of children ages 16, 9, 8, 7, 5 and 3 months, she said the expo is a big help.

"The school supplies, backpacks and clothes would be hard to get with six kids," she said. "We come to it every year. I really don't want to think about it if they didn't exist."

Amber Hernandez, event coordinator at the Southeast Tennessee Human Resources Agency, said planning for the giveaway began in February and grant money helped to buy the supplies. Along with grants, the group receives private donations from community businesses and organizations.

"It takes quite a bit of people and work," Hernandez said. "We have our insurance companies in the area like BlueCross BlueShield to pass out supplies. We buy the backpacks and supplies, but everything else is donated like the music, the food, screenings and haircuts."

She said many people don't know about what services are offered in the community, and the fair is a way to connect with people.

By 10:40 a.m. CDT, more than 200 people and their children had picked up clothes at the Serenity Pointe booth and nearly 100 more were working their way there. Before receiving free clothing and supplies, the parents and their children got stamps for visiting various booths.

There were 31 booths set up with offerings ranging from safety to health issues. The Department of Health was there to tell parents that it offers free dental screenings during the school year. The Lions Club offered free sight and hearing screenings. Students at Chattanooga State Community College's Kimball campus gave free haircuts to the boys and girls.

The Sequatchie County Public Library signed up children to get free books through the Imagination Library. Debbie Chandler with the Women's Care Center told families about parenting classes and other services.

"We have had a lot of people come through who didn't know about us," Chandler said. "We are open to anyone who needs help, but we especially see single mothers and lately people who have lost their jobs and just need help."

Backpacks and supplies that are left over from the expo will be at the human resource agency's office until school starts for anyone who may have missed the event. After that, the supplies will be distributed to the schools for new students.

Corrina Sisk-Casson is based in Dunlap. Email her at corrinacasson1@aol.com.

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