This year’s sixth annual Back-to-School Extravaganza on Saturday, Aug. 3., gave 576 kids snow-cone-stained smiles, backpacks full of school supplies and hygienic commodities.

On top of school supplies, the event also provided 79 haircuts from volunteer hair stylists, served 600 hot dogs and over 200 snow cones.

Kathy Drake, the extravaganza committee’s chair, said the event went “very smooth.”

“We’ve given out lots and lots of supplies,” Drake said near the end of the event. “We ran out of a few supplies, but that’s the way we want it — we want everything to be given out.” 

Drake explained the extravaganza couldn’t have been possible without the community’s donations. 

She said the event had around 100 volunteers and about 15 churches, businesses and organizations represented. 

“This isn’t one person doing this,” she said. “This is a community organization that does this, and it takes everybody together to pull this off.”

Brightening their day

While most kids at the event wore new backpacks full of donated school supplies and hygiene items, some kids also wore plastic fireman hats, which were courtesy of Bolivar City Fire Department. 

Students were allowed to receive firefighter-themed goodies and tour the fire department’s primary-engine rescue truck that sat in BHS’s parking lot at the event.

“We’ve been giving out hats, stickers and little fire-prevention books that have safety tips,” said Bolivar firefighter Caleb Dunaway.

Dunaway said his favorite part about the extravaganza was “being out with the public and letting them see who we are.” 

Kirk Barb

Kira Barb hands out hot dogs to students at the extravaganza. The hot dog booth was a collaboration between Polk County Cattlemen Association and Bolivar Open Hearts United Methodist Church. Over 600 hot dogs were served.

“It makes our day to let the kids go through our truck and brighten their day and hopefully (they can) become future firefighters one day,” he added.

Dunaway said the extravaganza is important to the community because “it helps out everyone.”

“Whether they’re less fortunate than some and can’t afford (supplies), they’ve at least got a chance to go out and get some supplies and not go to school empty-handed.”

A student’s perspective

For Autumn Bradshaw, a third grader at Bolivar Intermediate School, this year’s extravaganza was her second time attending the event.

Autumn’s mother, Stephanie Bradshaw, said they volunteered with Fairview Methodist for the extravaganza last year, but opted for the event’s walk-through this year.

“I got some pencils, some glue, some earbuds, some scissors, crayons, a backpack, deodorant, shampoo and some undies,” Autumn said, listing off the items she received at the event.

Autumn explained her favorite part about the extravaganza was seeing her friends after she didn’t get to see them during the summer. 

Regarding the event’s impact, Autumn said, “It’s good for some kids who can’t afford school supplies, and for some kids who can’t really get out because they don’t have a car or anything.”

“It makes me feel really good on the inside, and really warm on the inside and kind of warm on the outside,” Autumn said.

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