Seven-year-old Meghan Meade eagerly zipped open her new black backpack and showed off the school supplies inside — three folders, two notebooks, crayons, a yellow highlighter, glue and more.
But her mother just looked relieved that her six school-age children had the items they needed for the start of the school year, without the expense.
“They are prepared from the first day, and that makes a difference,” said Lesa Meade of Raytown. “This is bringing the community together for something positive.”
About 4,000 children were registered for the annual Back to School Blast on Saturday at the Interscholastic League Fieldhouse at 63rd Street and Swope Parkway.
Kansas City 5th District Councilman Michael Brooks sponsored the event in partnership with the city, Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church and the United Services Community Action Agency. City departments participating in the event included health, parks and recreation, human relations, Neighborhoods and Housing Services, fire and Water Services and the 311 call center.
Brooks hopes the event will continue to grow, both in number of participants and in donations. About 3,000 children were registered in 2013, and Brooks wants 6,000 to register for the 2015 event. The Back to School Blast did more advertising this year and also spread the word through social media.
“We aren’t going to serve everyone’s needs, but we can relieve some of the stress,” Brooks said. “It certainly helps.”
The event was open to families from several school districts.
By 10 a.m. a long line stretched from the parking lot into the fieldhouse. Along with a free backpack full of school supplies, children also could get a free haircut, free immunizations, a free school uniform shirt and a free bag of fruit.
Parents and grandparents could find out how to sign children up with a tutor, get financial help to pay for braces and check their homes for gas and water leaks. They also could learn about discounted health care plans, get assistance on job searches and receive information on health issues from asthma to prostate cancer.
“They talked to us about what sports teams they might join to help get the young men off the streets,” said Rita Sisson, who brought her two grandsons, Darcel, 3, and Juleyen, 10. “Both my grandsons have asthma, so we learned about some new medications. I’m happy. I can truly say I learned a lot.”
Missouri’s sales tax holiday continues through Sunday. Certain back-to-school purchases, such as clothing, school supplies, computers and other items, are exempt from sales tax.
Clothing — any article having a taxable value of $100 or less.
School supplies — not to exceed $50 per purchase.
Computer software — taxable value of $350 or less.
Personal computers — not to exceed $3,500.
Computer peripheral devices — not to exceed $3,500.
Source: Missouri Department of Revenue