TYLER, Texas — For the last six years, thousands of families have received free backpacks, school supplies, haircuts, immunizations, and even dental and vision screening at the "School is Cool" event in Tyler.
"With COVID-19 and the hardships that it is presenting to a lot of families in our community this is just one less thing and one less worry for their children to be able to start school on a good note," School is Cool committee member, Leanne Robinette, said.
On August 6, from 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Harvey Convention Center, 2,000 backpacks filled with school supplies will be given away for free. The event is hosted by the Tyler Area Business Education Council and the City of Tyler.
“The joy and excitement that you get to see all these children’s faces that may not have ever been able to get a brand new backpack and to be able to get excited to start school, it just gives everybody that’s involved a really good feeling,” Robinette said.
However, as the pandemic continues the school supply drive will look different this year, as social distancing measures will be put into place and many of the services will not be able to be provided.
"They will just kind of drive right through, we'll have some volunteers helping to put bags in the vehicles,” Robinette said. “The child will have to be in the vehicle with the parent.”
The event is less than a month away, and Robinette says they’re still in need of donations.
"We are just asking for monetary donations just so we can buy the supplies and put them in the backpacks just to you know help with the transfer of physical items due to COVID19," she explained. “We’re halfway there.”
Every $30 donated purchases enough supplies to fill one backpack. The University of Texas at Tyler has donated the bags for the last 2 years. Donations can be made online at Eventbrite or by mailing a check to 315 North Broadway Avenue or payable to the Tyler Area Business Education Council.
Robinette says the committee is working to partner with local barbershops or salons to try and figure out a way to help students in need of haircuts as well.
As for immunizations, NET Health has started a mobile bus for parents to take their kids and have the shots done quickly and safely.