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Free school supplies passed out despite rain - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Free school supplies passed out despite rain

CHARLESTON, SC -

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Not even the rain could keep thousands of Lowcountry families away from the First Day Festival at Liberty Square in Charleston. It's the annual event where children get school supplies and information for the upcoming school year.

The students waited in long lines for the freebies.

"I got pencils, ruler, notebook, folder," Chandler Patterson said.

"Paper and binders," Alston Farias said.

Mayor Joe Riley and other vendors taught kids about healthy food choices and encouraged them to go to school.

"We have this festival as a way to tell the kids and their families that we're behind them, and we're so excited that school is beginning," Mayor Riley said.

Charleston County School District Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley says getting students to school the first day is crucial.

"If you miss the first day you're playing catch up the whole year. The other reason it's important is because we want children to get a full year of instruction, and the first day counts," Dr. McGinley said.

Close to 100 vendors and business partners signed up for the First Day Festival including the Live 5 News team, who handed out pens and highlighters. Unfortunately many vendors had to cancel due to the rainy weather, but the families are thankful for those who donated supplies.

"It gives the community a chance for everybody to come together to donate to the children," Missy Loftis said.

"It's nice to have people that are willing to donate and help people that really need school supplies, that may not be able to purchase them for their family," Mary Clark said.

This is the eighth year CCSD and the City of Charleston partnered for the First Day Festival. Dr. McGinley says first day of school absences have gone down since she has been superintendent, from about 3,000 absences her first year to 1500 last year.

At the festival students also got free tours of the South Carolina Aquarium and free boat rides, among other attractions. The idea is to generate excitement among students for the new school year.

Wednesday is the first day of classes in Charleston. City employees with children will get two hours off on Wednesday morning so they can accompany their children to the first day of school.

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