Back to School event hits a successful fourth year

OKEECHOBEE — Summer is almost over, and with the end of the season comes the excitement of heading back to school! New backpacks are carefully chosen by excited children, filled to the brim with paper and pencils, crayons and highlighters, binders set to organize and lunch boxes filled for hungry bellies. But what happens when the backpacks are empty, or lacking in existence at all? That was the question asked by Our Village Okeechobee and Florida Community Health Centers several years ago. The two organizations came together to begin what is now the largest educational back to school event in Okeechobee.

Cash donations enabled the organizers of past events to go to Walmart and purchase needed school supplies and clothing. As the event draws near, additional donations are needed to continue this successful program.

Entering its fourth year, the expo provides local families with valuable information from local child and family serving agencies, backpacks, school supplies, clothing and great door prizes. The entire event is free to families.

Okeechobee is known for many things, its laid-back attitudes, small-town charm, and caring nature when it matters most. It is that spirit of giving that has propelled the Back to School Expo year after year. From large-scale donations of school supplies, to single pieces of clothing, to vendors sharing their valuable services and information – The Back to School Expo would not be possible without support from across our community.

As the event draws near, additional donations are needed to continue this successful program. Eight generous local agencies and establishments have committed to the cause by hosting small apple trees in their locations. These trees – located at CenterState Bank, Rue21, Eli’s Western Wear, Pat’s Floral Design, Brown Cow Sweetery, Church of Our Saviour, Okeechobee City Hall, and the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office – contain paper apples labeled with specific clothing needs for children in our community. Join us in helping children in need by picking an apple, purchasing the listed items, and returning the apple(s) and clothing pieces to any of the participating locations. For those giving individuals with limited time or a disdain for shopping, donations may also be made by check at CenterState Bank. We kindly request that all clothing donations be dropped off no later than Wednesday, July 25.

Our event sponsors include: Okeechobee County School District, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, Florida KidCare, Thrivent Financial, Re-elect Cary Pigman, Republican for State Representative (Paid by Cary Pigman, Republican for State Representative), Steve Dobbs Engineering, Okeechobee Rural Health Network, Rue21, Eli’s Western Wear, Aldi, Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee, Walmart, Christ Fellowship, Dennis and Dorothy Anderson, and Cris and Terry Douglas.

For more information, please contact Our Village Okeechobee’s Executive Director, Leah Suarez, at 863-697-8718.

The Lake Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and now includes news from around the lake every Wednesday.

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