Dallas Mayor Hosts Annual Back-to-School Fair

Parents of Dallas students were out early Thursday morning to join Mayor Mike Rawlings at the 17th Annual Mayor's Back-to-School Fair.

The fair includes free supplies for families that financially qualify, as well as free screenings for school-aged children.

Dallas students can get free health, dental and vision screenings, free immunizations and even free haircuts as part of the fair.

The fair runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fair Park in the Centennial and Automobile buildings.

The Back-to-School Fair doesn’t cost parents a penny.  Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says it’s all sponsored by local businesses.

“We've got to make sure our kids are successful.  A large percentage of our population in Dallas is below the poverty level.  They don't have the money to get the kids the school supplies, the school uniforms.  Our corporate community has come together and said, ‘We're going to help make that happen.’  We’re behind them, and we’re supporting them in school,” says Mayor Rawlings.

Dallas ISD families who financially qualify can scoop up free supplies

“Crayons, markers, a backpack, school supplies, and glue,” said fifth-grader Stephanie Hernandez.

Renee Harper said she had been waiting for the fair since midnight to be first in line to get her two Pre-K granddaughters ready for their first year of school.

"Supplies, that helps a lot," Harper said. "Getting their shots, getting their teeth cleaned, and just going through all the exhibits that they have here, it means a lot."

Superintendent Mike Miles said schools made progress in his first year on the job.

“Get an effective principle in every school, really support the teachers, but also make sure we have effective teachers in front of every classroom.  We tried to raise the quality of instruction.  We did a great job doing that, and our principals stepped up.  So, when you look at those metrics, we had a very good year,” said Miles.

At the fair, Miles focused on the work ahead.  “We've got a long way to go.  Yes, change is going to be tough.  I think we did a good first step last year, and we're going to keep that going,” says Miles.

The free school supplies offered at the fair are limited to only eligible residents. Please read the below information for qualifying documents.

Although the Fair's array of activities and services are free and open to the public, free school supplies are available ONLY to those who meet specific eligibility requirements (must be public school students pre-K through 12th grades who reside in the City of Dallas or attend a Dallas ISD school and meet the 2013 Federal Poverty Income Guidelines). A PHOTO ID, PROOF OF RESIDENCY AND PROOF OF INCOME ARE REQUIRED TO QUALIFY.

Picture ID includes state driver's license, state identification card, military identification card, or foreign consulate-issued identification (i.e. Matricula Consular). City of Dallas proof of residency includes May, June, July or August 2013 utility bill (electricity, water, phone or gas) showing applicant name and current address or letter from landlord or apartment management company, on company letterhead, indicating proof of residency during May, June, July or August 2013.

Proof of Income may be verified using paycheck stubs from May, June, July or August 2013 or a letter dated in May, June, July or August 2013 on agency or company letterhead from an employer, welfare office, caseworker, or Social Security Administration Office indicating annual income and signed by an agent of the company or agency. Letter must include contact phone number for verification. Other qualifying documents include a Medicaid letter, Lone Star Program Card and a Dallas ISD letter indicating qualification for free lunch program.

Due to the heat, Dallas Fire-Rescue said they are on scene to treat people who have any heat-related issues. Additionally, tents are being set up to provide shade and organizers have free ice water for visitors.

Keeping up a yearly tradition, Mayor Rawlings worked up a sweat dancing to the “Mayor’s Shuffle” and “Wobble” trying to keep the crowd entertained and keep their minds off the heat.

NBC 5's Kendra Lyn contributed to this report.

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