Thatcher – An annual tradition returns to the Gila Valley on Saturday, in its fourth new location in as many years.
The 13th Annual Graham County Back-to-School Resource Fair will be held Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m. to noon in the lobby of the Academic Programs Building on Eastern Arizona College’s Middle Campus.
In 2019 the event was held at EAC’s Hoopes Activity Center but was moved to the Activity Center parking lot for a drive-in fair in 2020 due to COVID-19. Last year, the event was held at the National Guard Armory.
Students from any school in Graham and Greenlee counties who attend will receive a backpack full of school supplies.
“One of the most important things that I want to make sure people hear and realize is that you have to have the kid with you to get a backpack,” said Chris Gibbs of the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition. and the Safford Lions Club. “We had to make this rule so no one would come in and say, ‘I have six grandkids I want to pick up for. We have a lot of sponsors and donors who help us set this up.
Service organizations will be present to inform parents and distribute additional school supplies. And St. Vincent DePaul and the Great Communities Resource Center (GCRC) will distribute vouchers for free clothes for each child that can be picked up at thrift stores.
The Safford Lions Club will be offering free eye screenings, there will be dental and nutritional information, as well as information on getting a physical and sports checkup for children before school starts.
There is also something for parents whose children are not yet ready for school or whose children are not yet born.
“We also make car seats,” said Brittany Hernandez of the Graham County Chamber of Commerce. “You take the course and you get a free car seat, but you have to register.”
There will be two classes of 75 minutes each, one at 9:00 a.m. and the other at 10:30 a.m. Children are not allowed in the classroom and car seats are provided by LifeNet. To register, call 928-428-2511.
Sponsors include: Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition, United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties, Walton Drug, LifeNet, GCRC, Safford Lions Club, Tooth BUDDS, First Things First, Safford City-Graham County Library, Graham County Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Community Foundation of the Gila Valley, Canyonlands, TMC Healthcare, SafeKids, and the Mark and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona.