A community gives back as kids head back to school - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

A community gives back as kids head back to school

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RHEA COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - It's back to school shopping in Rhea County and the hearts of the community mean shoppers don't pay a thing at "Give A Kid A Chance". Hundreds attended the United Way's 8th annual event held at the middle school Thursday.

Christine Ralph, director of the United Way of Rhea County, says it's the biggest turnout ever.

"We definitely see the need. It has grown," says Ralph. "We had 637 registered participants, and then we had additional participants show up today."

The children all had to get annual physicals before attending.

The public donates supplies along with area organizations and businesses. Kids grab up anything from pens and paper to toothbrushes and other hygiene products.

"Constant appreciation from the parents. The kids are grinning as they go out the door. They're excited," adds Ralph.

Third-grader Gaige Morris is no exception.

"Lots of pencils. Coloring books," says Gaige.

His sister, Desiree, is entering the fifth grade, but isn't quite as excited about summer vacation coming to an end.

"Are you looking forward to going back next week?" I asked.
"No," says Desiree.
"Why not?"
"Because I don't want to," she responds, smiling.

But their grandfather, Lonnie Ray, appreciates the community effort.

"It's great. To come here, all these people helping out for the kids. It's great," says Morris.

The kids won't only be going back to school with supplies and a clean bill of health. They'll arrive in style with free hair cuts thanks to local stylists donating their time and talent.

Third grader Andrew Hedden is getting a "Bieber cut".

"You like Justin Bieber?" I asked.
"No," says Andrew.
"You just like his hair cut?"
"Yeah!" Andrew responds, laughing.

His dad, David Camarillo, can't thank the community enough.

"It helps tremendously. Everybody getting together and helping out the kids and helping out the families," says Camarillo.

The children also received head lice checks. Some families also left with child car seats and nearly 150 bicycle helmets were given out by Erlanger Hospital.

If you weren't able to bring your children to the event you still have a chance to get them supplies at the United Way office on Delaware Avenue in Dayton, Tennessee next week. Please contact the office at 731-775-5633 for details.
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