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Pahrump’s 2020 Back to School Fair hailed a success

The start of the 2020-2021 school year is just over two weeks away and though students will be heading into an academic year that will look quite a bit different than in years past, one thing that has not changed is the necessity for students to be prepared with all of the school supplies they will need to pursue educational success.

In the Pahrump community, the approach of a new school year traditionally includes a Back to School Fair geared toward ensuring students have those necessary school supplies. For many years, Desert View Hospital headed the Back to School Fair effort, hosting a large event filled with vendor booths that were set up to distribute information along with school supplies and even conduct health screenings. When the hospital made the decision to forego organizing the event, the NyE Communities Coalition stepped up to take over the fair in 2019 and continued the event’s tradition of success without a hitch.

For the 2020 Back to School Fair, the COVID-19 pandemic created some definite hurdles to clear but the NyE Communities Coalition took that challenge head on and once again managed to put on a highly successful fair on Saturday, Aug. 1.

“Even in the oddest of times, our community can come together and still support its students’ success!” an obviously delighted Sofia Cano-Allison, an event organizer and an AmeriCorps community health worker hosted by the NyE Communities Coalition, told the Pahrump Valley Times after the fair.

To address the need for social distancing and limiting the number of people congregated for a public event, the coalition switched up the format of this year’s Back to School Fair, turning it into a drive-thru event. Rather than walking through a fair full of vendor booths to collect items, parents were able to drive to the event and simply pick up a backpack chock full of all sorts of school supplies, all provided free of charge. While health screenings were not available during the fair, the coalition was able to organize the distribution of coupons for free sports physicals. In addition, the coalition made sure to notify the community that immunizations, though not available on site at the event, could be arranged by making an appointment with the Community Health Nurse’s Office. All in all, Cano-Allison said the Back to School Fair was well-received by the community.

“As organizers, we knew that with current events and restrictions, this year would be much different than in years past,” Cano-Allison detailed. There may have been some trepidation as to how the event would turn out, given the circumstances and necessary changes in how the event was hosted, but Cano-Allison said the outcome was extremely positive. “The drive-thru layout ended up working so well, some community members said they preferred it that way,” she said. “Students and parents stayed in their vehicles as our volunteers handed them backpacks pre-filled with supplies for the upcoming school year.”

In the span of just two hours, Back to School Fair volunteers were able to hand out a total of 470 backpacks filled with items such as binders, loose-leaf paper, folders, spiral notebooks, composition notebooks, index cards, glue sticks, rulers, pencils, pens, tissues, sanitizer, chapstick, pop sockets, phone wallets and various wellness items geared toward physical activity. Cano-Allison added that for most backpacks prepared for pre-K through fifth grade students, the supplies also included markers, scissors, colored pencils and crayons.

All of the items given out at the fair came from the generosity of the local community, with Desert Radiology, Medsmart, Nye County School District and the NyE Communities Coalition all contributing the backpacks. School supplies and funding were provided by Desert View Hospital, the school district, P3 Health Partners, Nevada Eye Physicians, Nevada Rural Housing Authority, Don and Rhonda Button, AmeriCorps State and National, 4-H, Soroptimists, Premiere Adoption Services, Girl Scouts, Nevada Outreach Training Organization, Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health WIC and Community Health Nurse’s Office, Nathan Adelson Hospice and Dr. Antonina Capurro of the Nevada State Dental Health Office. Cano-Allison made sure to add a thank you to Spring Mountain Medical Services for providing free sports physicals for students who received coupons for that service at the event.

“I would like to thank our 2020 Back to School Fair Committee members who worked so hard this year to bring about this successful event,” Cano-Allison stated. “To the volunteers that showed up at the event and greeted every parent and student with a smile even through they were behind a mask, I thank you! To our community members, thank you for showing up and taking part in this event. These are stressful times and we hope that we provided a small comfort to you and your student. Finally, to all our donors and contributors of this year’s event, we couldn’t have done it without you! Here’s to the upcoming school year, may our students be successful in whatever setting their year may look like!”

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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