The Moniteau County Alliance For Kids is preparing for the next school year as the current one comes to an end.
The Alliance's Board of Directors met May 9 to solidify plans for the fourth-annual Moniteau County Back to School Fair, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at California High School. Students from all across Moniteau County are invited to attend, regardless of family income levels.
Those with economic means are asked to bring at least one jar of peanut butter per child - or other school-lunch item - for the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri's Buddy Pack program, which feeds hungry children over weekends and holidays throughout the school year.
The Board on May 9 received updated registration counts and are already at last year's total of 253 with the deadline still more than a month away. Parents who have not registered their children are asked to do so by July 1 by picking up a registration form at the Moniteau County Health Center or Central Bank in California, or at Co-Mo Electric Cooperative's website (co-mo.coop).
Students who attend the fair will receive free back-to-school health screenings, including eye and hearing tests, dental checks and immunization reviews. After completing the health checks, all registered students will receive a backpack filled with supplies specific to their school and grade level.
In addition to the health checks and supplies, there will be numerous fun activities, including rides in the Co-Mo Electric Cooperative bucket-truck buckets, appearances by clowns, cheerleaders, drum lines and mascots, as well as a visit from Santa Claus, who will be getting mid-year reports for his naughty-and-nice list.
For the first time this year, Back to School Fair organizers will be welcoming representatives from MoCHIP - Missouri Child Identification Program. MoCHIP provides parents with a CD of their child's digital photographs, fingerprints, emergency contacts and dental bite impressions, as well as two laminated ID cards.
Brad McCord, a member of the California Masonic Lodge who is coordinating with MoCHIP to bring this service to the fair, said it is an important weapon against the growing problem of missing and abducted children. And, he added, it goes beyond just kids.
"A lot of times adults who have elderly parents with Alzheimer's Disease or other relatives who are in danger of wandering away will come and take advantage of this service," he said.
There will be no charge to registered students.
As planning for the fair moves into the homestretch, the Board still is accepting donations, which can be made to the Moniteau County Alliance for Kids and mailed to P.O. Box 220, Tipton, MO 65081.
"This is such a great event because it brings the entire county together," said Board President John Agliata. "We're not just helping Tipton kids or California kids and forgetting our county's smaller schools. We have good representation from every school."
The Board also is looking for volunteers to help finish off the planning and for the day of the event. Those who are interested are invited to a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at the Moniteau County Health Center, 401 S. Francis St., California.