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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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St. Pete 'Care Fair' helps get kids ready for school

Pens, pencils, notebooks, backpacks, trips to the dentist and the doctor, filling out school registration forms... The back-to-school checklist can be daunting for any parent.

For a working single mom with three children, it can be overwhelming — a scheduling nightmare.

“I would probably have to break it up into three weekends,” said Trevan Proctor.

Proctor makes it a point to put the first Saturday in August on her calendar every year so she can bring her three children to Care Fair, a one-stop shop for getting kids ready for school.

On Saturday her second-grade daughter and two sons — a sophomore and a senior in high school — moved through the entire checklist in about one hour at the Enoch Davis Recreation Center on 18th Avenue South.

“I can get it all at one time here,” Proctor said.

Nearly 300 volunteers led by the Junior League of St. Petersburg ushered hundreds of families through a series of physical examinations, school paperwork and even health screenings for adults offered by area physicians from All Children's Hospital and other groups.

The annual charitable event aims to give single mothers, working parents and low-income families a jump start on the school year, which begins Aug. 18 in Pinellas County.

Area nonprofits and service providers also were on hand to connect with people who might need help through the rest of the year.

On Saturday, the Junior League planned to give away 1,500 new backpacks.

“The backpacks are just filled to the brim with school supplies the children will need,” Junior League President Tuesdi Dyer said.

The League advertised this year's Care Fair extensively in city buses and on social media, she said.

“We were expecting more families this year and every year we expect more families,' Dyer said.

The Tampa Bay Rays and several local companies help fund the fair, and community support has grown especially in the past couple of years, she said.

That help can go a long way for families in need, said Patricia Wallace, whose grandchildren came out for the fair Saturday.

“It's a good thing,” she said. “Most of these kids, they can't afford all of it.”

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