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Fort Macleod’s Back to School Connect helps close to 600 people

Dr. Brett Holt was on hand to give free dental exams.

Dr. Brett Holt was on hand to give free dental exams.

Scissors were free for the taking at Back to School Connect.

Scissors were free for the taking at Back to School Connect.

Close to 600 people are better prepared for school and more connected to Fort Macleod following an annual event at the arena.
Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre distributed free school supplies and introduced the large crowd to agencies and organizations at Back to School Connect.
“We were all just really pleased with the event,” Kids First’s Trish Hoskin said. “It went over so well, and all the feedback was really positive.”
Now in its fourth year, Back to School Connect offers school supplies and gently used clothing at no cost.
Parents also tapped into free dental and optical exams for the children, along with back to school hair trims.
Support agencies had representatives on hand to share information, and local groups were taking registration for their new seasons.
“It’s not just about getting school supplies,” Hoskin said. “It’s really about connecting people with the services in town.”
Hoskin said people often express surprise at everything that is available in Fort Macleod to help children and families.
“That’s why we have to do this, to get people to understand pretty well everything they need is here,” Hoskin said.
People filed into the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre over a three-hour period on Wednesday.
School supplies including pens, crayons, scissors, pencils, paper and binders were distributed at booths manned by agency representatives.
That was a change to the format this year, to ensure people connected with the information about programs and services.
Tables filled with donated gently used clothing lined the arena floor, allowing people to outfit children for the new school term.
Hoskin pointed to the free clothing exchange as an example of the support Kids First gets from the community.
Rose Matlock volunteered to co-ordinate the clothing exchange, finding locations where people can drop off items and co-ordinating other volunteers to pick up, sort and display the clothes.
“Rose has just taken that on,” Hoskin said. “It’s kind of her baby.”
Any leftover clothing is picked up by the Canadian Diabetes Association.
On Wednesday, volunteers with the clothing exchange stayed throughout Back to School Connect.
Those volunteers, along with the 2309 Fort Macleod Army Cadets, who had a display, as well as other volunteers and even members of the public, helped with clean-up.
Kids First appreciates the community support it receives.
“It’s exciting to me,” Hoskin said. “There is kind of an energy, people want to volunteer for our event. That tells me the work we’re doing is valued — and fun.”

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