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School Dressing Days help more than 1,000

School Dressing Days assisted more than 1,000 children and their families in receiving necessary supplies, clothing and immunizations this year.

The two-day drive last Friday and Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fredericksburg experienced few glitches, though overall attendance was down from previous years.

Co-chairman Erin Faulconer said the event, sponsored by the Interfaith Community Council, served 419 families and 1,003 area students, ranging from Head Start to 12th grade.

“The number of children and families was down from years past,” Faulconer said. “I think that is due to families needing to preregister.”

Last year, the program reached almost 1,400 children, and about 1,600 the year before that.

Health Department employees also provided Tdap immunizations, which are required for rising sixth-graders and recommended for adults. One of the nurses volunteering, Alyce Finch, said about 80 individuals were given the immunization that guards against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough.

Clothing and supplies that remained after the drive were divided among local schools, a “Stuff the Cruiser” event in Southpoint, Empowerhouse—which serves victims of domestic violence—and storage for next year.

Overall, Faulconer was very pleased with the event’s location at the church on Bragg Road. “The new location was fantastic,” Faulconer said. “There were no major issues.”

However, Faulconer said there were a large number of nonregistered families who “walked in” to the drive. Without preregistration, providing the appropriate clothes and supplies for students was more difficult.

She said that next year, walk-ins will not be allowed at School Dressing Days. Instead, families will preregister in order to schedule an appointment for their shopping trip.

“This will help in knowing how much to purchase and what sizes,” Faulconer said. “We want to be good stewards with the donations we receive.”

Registration will begin in June 2014 and continue through July. In addition to informing schools in the region, the council will also distribute fliers in targeted areas for the best outreach to qualifying families.

This year’s drive at the church was a departure from its previous location at the Bragg Hill Family Life Center. The council and the center parted ways after a dispute over operational costs.

Faulconer did not say if the drop in attendance could be attributed to the move.

Co-chairman Becky Paul said they had provided information about the move to schools in advance in addition to advertising in areas where qualifying families could see the information.

“We want to make sure the people who need help get it,” Paul said.

Dawnthea Price: 540/374-5444