HANFORD — Families were able to score school supplies while enjoying the last days of summer during the Salvation Army’s ninth annual Back-to-School Bash on Friday.
Children who signed up before the event were able to receive free backpacks filled with notebooks, writing utensils, rulers and more to prepare for the upcoming school year.
“(Without this event) some families would take a while to get all the school supplies needed,” said Salvation Army Corps Officer Jose Juarez. “They might have had to choose between buying new clothes and new backpacks.”
This year’s bash had the largest turnout in recent years at over 200 children and 75 families, Juarez said.
The Salvation Army collects backpack supplies over the course of the year for this event. Along with the backpacks, the bash also offered a separate prize raffle, free haircuts, free bicycle repair, free child identification tests, water slides, refreshments and games.
Bridget Bell of Hanford said this was her second year attending the bash. Three of her four children received backpacks full of supplies.
“This is definitely helpful because the teachers send a list every year of what supplies you have to get,” Bell said. “Now our family is set.”
Several local agencies had booths set up at the event: the Kings Lions Club, Hanford Police, Hanford Masonic Lodge, Kings Community Action Organization, Hanford LEO Club and more.
Hanford native Jim Boyd has been volunteering for the bash ever since it started, he said.
“Seeing all of the kids is always my favorite part,” Boyd said. “The people we do this for don’t have much. These kids might not get anything, but this event is kind of like Christmas for them.”
Juarez said that the Hanford Salvation Army is still welcoming back-to-school donations, especially so they can stock up for next year.
"The reaction of the parents is the best part," Juarez said. "This event helps them give back to their kids."