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Chapel Hill prepares for school with Family Fun Day, book bag giveaway

Paris Perry, an elementary school student from Durham, plays on a waterslide at the Hargrave Center's Family Fun Event on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. Paris' father, Fredrick Perry, owns Bounce With P Inflatables LLC and donated his services for the event.

Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation hosted Family Fun Day and a back-to-school book bag giveaway at the Hargraves Community Center on Aug. 19.

Families in the community with children in grades K-12 received free book bags, school supplies and other back-to-school essentials like socks. Classes start for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools students on Aug. 28. 

At the event, families also learned about personalized tutoring and various extracurricular programs provided by CHCCS. 

Anissa McLendon, who sat on the event's planning committee, said events like this are a great help for families who may be struggling to start the school year strong. 

“You don’t want the school year to be a hindrance to kids,” she said. “If we can help them out and get them through the first four or five months of school, that takes the burden off of families who are trying to figure out where their next meal is coming from.” 

Leslie Davis attended the event and said she and her husband, UNC head basketball coach Hubert Davis, were happy to participate and help low-income families in the community.

“So many people in Chapel Hill see our championships and they see our wealth and they see the advancements of our University,” she said. “They don’t realize that we have quite a lot of members of our community living below the poverty line who are low-income and really struggle to make ends meet.”

Families also enjoyed food, vendors and community organizations set up outside the community center as a part of Family Fun Day.

One organization that participated in the festivities was the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which served snow cones and popcorn.

Alicia Stemper manages communications for the office, which she said participates in the event every year.

 "It's just a wonderful way to have positive interactions with the community," she said. 

Another group at the event was Aveda Institute Chapel Hill, which offers programs in cosmetology and esthiology.

Tiffaney Webb, a representative from Aveda, said the institute participated because they want to show students in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro communities that there are alternatives to four-year universities after graduating high school.

“We’ve been able to talk with the community and show people that there are other options in the world,” Samantha Walton, another representative from Aveda, said. “It’s been wonderful seeing everyone out here and being able to get ideas from the outside community about different events we would be able to put on that would benefit the community.”

Jim Bostian, the North Carolina president of health insurance company Aetna, said his organization attended as a vendor to fulfill its mission of being a partner in community health. 

“We really want to be a partner in the community, so we are here today doing backpack giveaways, immunizations and health screenings,” he said. “This means a lot to us to be able to give back in this way to the community.”

The Town's parks and recreation department organized the event. Recreation supervisor John French said the purpose of the book bag giveaway and Family Fun Day was to bring the community together and give students a positive experience. 

“It's important to bring families together and also make sure we take care of the youth,” he said. “It's really important to us that we send kids to school on a positive note."

@DTHCityState |

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