The night before Sumner School District’s annual Back-to-School Resource Fair, staff and volunteers met up and filled more than 500 backpacks with paper, pencils, erasers and highlighters.
There is always a big turnout at the resource fair, and groups from all over the community — from Sumner Rotary to Calvary Community Church — step up to donate for families that need a little bit of help.
“We do have some lower income families in the district,” said Tami Brouillet, homeless education coordinator at Sumner’s Family Center. “We have a lot of kids who need this. The impact is amazing.”
By 3 p.m. on Aug. 31, a line of parents and students wrapped around the building of Sumner High School for the fair.
Misti Nicodemus, a mother of three who just moved to Sumner a year ago from Bonney Lake, was one of the many waiting in line. When she heard the district was giving out school supplies, she wanted to pick some up for her children, who start preschool, sixth and eighth grades this year.
“I have three kids going into school,” she said. “I think this helps kids be ready for school when they normally wouldn’t be.”
Backpacks are just one of the ways that the district helps families prepare for the start of the new school year. The resource fair also provided free haircuts and dental checkups, along with information about insurance, transportation and food services.
We do have some lower income families in the district. We have a lot of kids who need this. The impact is amazing.
Tami Brouillet, homeless education coordinator at Sumner’s Family Center
The line of families wove through the hallways inside Sumner High, first signing in with volunteers from the high school’s leadership and cheer teams and moving to form into three lines for students in high school, middle school and elementary school.
Once students received their backpacks, they moved past booths to pick up pamphlets and supplies.
Dale Clark, a doctor and executive director of the Mom and Me Mobile Medical Clinic from Buckley, was sitting at one of those booths. His mobile clinic, which he’s paraded all over the state, provides medical insurance to those in need by using funds from his thrift store in Enumclaw.
While he didn’t get the chance to drive the clinic down for the event, he’s visited Sumner many times before.
“Just seeing the need in the community made me want to help,” said Clark, adding that an issue was that not many people know that he existed as a resource. “There’s a need in Sumner for medical care and we give it away for free.”
Calvary’s Community Closet, a Calvary Community Church program that donates clothing for people with urgent needs, had a booth at the event as well.
Staff members of the district were providing students with haircuts, and at one point, the waiting line was 45 minutes long. Free dental screenings were given by Ziegele Smile Dental Studio.
Outside, a free meal of hot dogs, chips and water were waiting for families, provided by local service groups.
The resource fair first began 10 years ago. While this was the first year the event was held at Sumner High, the fair remains a district-wide event and a community-wide effort. It was previously hosted at the Calvary Community Church and Daffodil Valley Elementary School.
Extra backpacks from the event will go to schools and be given to new students that didn’t get a chance to attend the fair.
The Sumner School District starts classes Wednesday (Sept. 7).
Back-to-School Resource Fair by the numbers
▪ 19 dental exams
▪ 27 haircuts
▪ 514 backpacks with supplies
▪ 14 resource tables
▪ 400 hot dogs to families