Tarrant County

Back to School Roundup Kicks Off 17th Year in Tarrant County

The effort is overcoming another year of pandemic challenges to help struggling families prepare for the school year

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It's a big back-to-school weekend in North Texas.

The Tax-Free Weekend is kicking off Friday through Sunday across the state.

The Dallas Mayor hosted the city's annual Back to School Fair.

And in Tarrant County, the 17th annual Back to School Roundup helped more families in need with backpacks, supplies and other services to start the school year off right.

“It’s a big deal. Our kids are our future and we want to see our kids succeed," said Chris Zimmer, Board President for the Back to School Round Up. “Helping them get their school supplies is just one of our organization's missions to help the underserved get ready for school."

Tarrant County Community College South played host for the supply giveaway and services, which was only for parents who pre-registered for the event.

Tarrant County's 17th annual Back to School Roundup is helping more families in need with backpacks, supplies and other services to start the school year off right.

This year, the Back to School Roundup held activities in a hybrid format, with both indoor and drive-thru services.

In the drive-thru, families were able to stay in their cars while volunteers loaded the backseat with backpacks, school supplies, snacks, and drinks.

If families were comfortable, they were able to park and head inside one of the facilities where sponsors offered several more free services.

Ogle School gave free haircuts, UNT Heath Science Center conducted free sports physicals, and Tarrant County Public Health gave out immunizations for kids, with COVID vaccines available for adults and children older than 12.

“We're just grateful to be here, you know. For them to get everything ready for this event because a lot of people can’t afford school supplies this year through the whole pandemic," said Edward Munoz, who needed supplies for a family of six.

Organizers prepared for about 900 families and 4,000 children this year, a lower number than in years past due to challenges from the pandemic.

The event had to scale back this year because some sponsors dropped out due to budget constraints and the increase in COVID-19 cases, so organizers simply did not have the sponsorship staff to accommodate the number of students they’re used to serving each year — which usually numbers in the several thousand.

“It was very important for us to continue our event and try to bring some normalcy back into the community as well," said Zimmer. “They’re struggling to pay their rent, struggling to pay their bills and a lot of our parents are still looking for jobs because COVID took those jobs away from them.”

That's exactly what happened to Erica Tucker and her family.

“My husband got laid off on Friday. And I’ve gone through surgery so we’ve been very, very tight and this has been super helpful financially," she said. "It has been a huge financial strain and that’s one less thing we have to worry about as a family which is amazing."

She was trying to get five kids ready for in person learning in Fort Worth ISD, with Zimmer said can cost between $100 to $200 in supplies per child.

“It’s always a huge blessing when stuff like this happens right when we’re needing it," said Tucker.

Another addition to this year’s event is the donation of 300 Acer Chromebook laptops from Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages. The laptops are for students in grades 11 through 12.

That donation is a part of a larger initiative that the company has made – a $1 million donation in laptops to students across Texas, including both Dallas and Fort Worth.

Funded entirely by private donations and contributions, Roundup is a collaborative effort between Tarrant County and its 20 school districts, municipalities, public health department, state agencies, nonprofits, corporate sponsors and volunteers.

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