DUNLAP, Tenn. -- For years, Debbie Morrison has seen parents struggle to make ends meet.
As a director of the nonprofit Serenity Pointe agency, she is always looking for ways to help people help themselves, which is why she supports the upcoming Give a Kid a Chance giveaway.
"In this economy, parents are just struggling with everyday life," Morrison said. "Then you have the need for school supplies, school clothes and fees, and if you have multiple children or a single parent, or one parent income, people just need help. And this is just one of the things we can do."
The Friday event at Sequatchie County High School starts at 9 a.m. CDT, but parents and their children begin lining up as early as an hour beforehand. Once inside, they will be given a card to check off at various stations before heading over to the free clothes and free backpacks. Exhibits will vary from fire safety to free health screenings.
There also will be free activities for children, including haircuts and games, and the day will feature live music and free food. The people at Serenity Pointe have been going through donations of clothing and shoes for the past several months and sorting sizes for those in prekindergarten up to seniors in high school, Morrison said.
This event is only for Sequatchie County residents, but other counties are doing their own. Morrison said Serenity Pointe personnel will help Grundy County students at that county's high school on July 23 at 9 a.m CDT.
The Give a Kid a Chance event, which began five years ago, includes community groups such as the Southeast Tennessee Human Resources Agency, TENNderCARE and the Community Advisory Board.
According to Morrison, a certified Dave Ramsey financial counselor, 76 percent of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. So an event like this is very useful to a community.
"There are excellent booths to gain knowledge, booths for health care. It's like an expo," she said.
Across town, Ewtonville Baptist Church is hosting its second Free for All clothing and housewares giveaway event the following day for the community.
Head coordinator Connie Ferris said the group wanted to do the event a few weeks before school started and before the tax-free weekend, so parents could stock up and then figure out what they needed to buy later.
The Ewtonville Baptist event is held in the church's Family Life Center gymnasium, and everything is free. People are handed a plastic bag to fill it with items. Church members are on hand to help make selections and visit with guests.
"Our ladies group wanted to do something not just for our church but for our community, as well," Ferris said. "With Tecumseh, Seymour Tubing and another plant shutting down, there were so many people out of work that we thought why not do this, a giveaway, and they can come and get what they want as much as they want."
The Free for All is Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon CDT. Donations are being accepted Thursday at 10 a.m. CDT. It is open to anyone.
"There are families who have more than one or two children who can really use this," Ferris said. "Last year, some families [who attended] had five or six kids. There's no way that you can afford it. And we have quality stuff that is donated."
Corrina Sisk-Casson is based in Dunlap. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.