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Back to School Connect planned in Fort Macleod

A new school year can put a financial strain on families.
Back to School Connect in Fort Macleod helps to ease that strain while connecting people with more than 40 clubs and agencies in the community.
Free clothes, school supplies, haircuts, eye and dental exams and snacks will be offered from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26 at Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.
Kids First director Susan Simpson said Back to School Connect is in keeping with the Town of Fort Macleod’s mandate.
“The town’s strategic plan refers to continuing to be a family friendly community, and if you ever want a snapshot of a family friendly community it’s Back to School Connect,” Simpson said. “We’re family friendly. We’re here for families. It’s not just Kids First, it’s all these agencies and these organizations and the professionals. Everybody is here to support families.”
Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre organizes Back to School Connect with support from Family and Community Support Services, the government of Alberta and Parent Link.
In its first two years Back to School Connect attracted more than 500 children and adults to the community hall, and organizers anticipate another strong turn-out in 2015.
One of the highlights of Back to School Connect is a free clothing exchange to help parents outfit their children for the school year. Donations of gently used clothing are accepted and then organized and displayed by a volunteer team led by Rose Matlock.
“Rose and her team of volunteers have taken complete charge of the clothing exchange,” Simpson said. “This is a group of people, it’s just amazing for us they do this.”
Any leftover clothing will go to the Canadian Diabetes Society.
Dr. Brett Holt of Chinook Dental Centre will provide free dental check-ups and Dr, Melissa Groenweg of Optical Studios will provide free vision tests.
Hairdressers including Lori Hodges and Angie Eremenko of His and Hers Salon, Rhonda Goulet of Full Spectrum Hair Salon and independent stylist Rhonda Loyst will provide free “back to school” trims.
Agencies such as the Fort Macleod Affordable Housing Coalition, Parents As Teachers, Fort Macleod Preschool, Fort Macleod Food Matters, Alberta Health Services, Cottonwood Organic Food Co-op, Alberta Supports, Service Canada, Project Read, Welcome to Parenthood, the Piikani Head Start Program, Christ Church Anglican and Fort Macleod Early Childhood Coalition will be on hand to promote their services.
Fort Macleod clubs and organizations such as Fort Macleod Minor Hockey, Fort Macleod Skating Club, Legacy Tae Kwon Do and Cindy Gray Dance will be on hand to register children for the coming season. Jump Start will be present to help parents secure sports funding.
“They realize what a captive audience they have there,” Simpson said of the increase in the number of clubs at Back to School Connect.
Staff from Stockman’s Grill will provide free healthy snacks.
“If people would come and see the energy and see the willing spirit of those volunteers and the families just thrilled with the support they receive, they would understand Fort Macleod better,” Simpson said.

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