First Day Fest saves families money on school supplies

Published: Aug. 7, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2022 at 11:29 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - School starts in just a matter of days for students in the Lowcountry and it is time to start back-to-school shopping. However, with the rise of inflation, parents say they are spending more money on school supplies now than in years past.

Hundreds of those parents attended this year’s First Day Fest at the Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston to grab free school supplies. First Day Fest is an annual event where volunteers hand out free back-to-school supplies, food and extra additives that can be helpful to families at the start of the school year.

Many people say this event is so helpful because the price of supplies in stores right now are so high.

Malinda Terry has been a volunteer for First Day Fest for the last 12 years. She was handing out backpacks filled with school supplies to kids. She says in years past, they would have 20 garbage bins full of backpacks. This year, they were only provided nine garbage bins.

“People are struggling to take care of their own families,” Terry said. “They don’t have the means to make additional donations. I’m hoping that this will be the only year, but we ran out of supplies an hour and 15 minutes in and as long as I’ve been doing it, we’ve never run out of supplies. And I’ve been here like I said, 12 years.”

Terry says she is grateful for those that did donate but acknowledges that inflation had a lot to do with the low supply this year.

“Everything is more expensive,” Terry said. “And of course, we’re dealing with the supply chain. It’s just harder to get things. And, like I said, you have so many other things you have to focus on that we’re not able to make donations like we have in the past.”

For those that did get their hands on supplies, they say the First Day Fest has really helped them prepare for this school year.

“I like it because we get to get all the stuff for free instead of paying for it,” Cayden Heyward, a rising 5th grader, said.

Sam Hazeltine, a James Island resident, says it’s great to see the community come together.

“It’s a really good cause,” Hazeltine said. “That’s how I could put it. Seeing kids, it’s really great to see kids roaming around. Tell them ‘Have a great school year.’”

Some students, like Trenton Mazyck, a rising 9th grader, said he is going to save up the supplies he got to make them last longer.

“I’m not going to start all of it on day one,” Mazyck said. “I’m going to like keep some at home and I’m going to take some of it to school, so that like if I need it when I come home for homework, I’ll be able to have it.”

The majority of families walked out of the First Day Fest with supplies and they said whatever they did not get, they will go buy the rest in stores.

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