"Bartow Give a Kid a Chance" will provide students school supplies and several important services Saturday, July 31, at four sites across the community -- Cartersville Civic Center, South Central Middle School in Emerson, the Euharlee Commissary and Manning Mill Park in Adairsville -- from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
But before families can plan to bring their children to the late-summer charity event, they must get their names on the list. Registration will be held Saturday, June 12, from 9 a.m. to noon at the same four sites. Participants will not be required to verify their income, but must show proof of residency.
"The reason we're doing registration early is because they're going to be getting backpacks with age-appropriate school supplies, T-shirts and jeans in the correct size -- we need some time to get those organized," said Jessica Mitcham service coordinator for Bartow County at Tallatoona Community Action Partners, one of the organizations participating in the efforts.
"There's also going to be free haircuts and free vision, dental and hearing screening at the [July 31] event," Mitcham added. "When they sign up on the 12th, we'll give them a postcard to put on their refrigerator to remind them to show up on the 31st, and they'll go to the same place [they registered]."
In addition to Tallatoona, Bartow Collaborative is assisting the efforts by organizing the event. The groups are partnering with United Way's "Christmas in July" school supply drive, the Department of Labor Employer Committee, and eight to 10 churches that have given a total of $15,000 to the cause.
"In the past, lots of churches and different agencies have done school supply things," Mitcham said. "They've done school supplies in the past, United Way has distributed them every summer in the past, but we've added all the additional services. We're trying really to pull everybody together and do one communitywide event."
Linda Walker, director of Bartow Collaborative, said this year's communitywide event is the culmination of years of effort from several sources.
"Back in the '90s, Linda Thomas with the Bartow County [Community Resources Office] saw the need and single-handedly started the effort. She asked churches for support and so churches would donate school supplies and she single-handedly saw to the distribution to less-fortunate kids," Walker said. "Bartow County grew, the need grew proportionately."
Organizers say that with their current resources, they believe they can fulfill the needs of 1,000 area youths. But amid a tough economy affecting households across the county, they welcome donations of funds and volunteer time.
"We would love to serve more if the money's there. We'll serve as many kids as our money allows," Walker said. "We do intend to create waiting lists, so if we have money, we can add people to it."
Volunteers will be needed the week of July 12 to sort donated items that will be distributed on July 31. Volunteers also will be needed at each of the four sites July 31.
Those wishing to help on those days or through other donations can call Walker at Bartow Collaborative at 770-773-7342, or Mitcham at Tallatoona at 770-382-4222.