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story.lead_photo.caption The 2020 Moniteau County Back to School Fair was July 28, 2020, in the circle drive at the California Elementary School as a drive-thru to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)

The Moniteau County Back to School Fair is once again on tap in California as a drive-thru event for this year, the second year in a row.

The fair, now in its 12th year, adapted to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, and had great success in creating a drive-thru opportunity for families in need of supplies to receive some assistance. This year's edition is set for Tuesday, July 27 from 4-6 p.m. in the California High School parking lot. Parents and guardians should plan to arrive at the fair via the lot's east entrance and leave via the exit on the west end.

"It's an opportunity for families to get their school supplies for free," said Elaine Anderson, Moniteau County Engagement Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. "This year, the Back to School Fair is going to be a drive-thru event, there's no pre-registration, which is a change from the past. Families will get a bag of school supplies, a bag of hygiene supplies, and a backpack if they like."

Anderson said the drive-thru is intended to be used for simple pick-up services. Immediate family members can drop by on their own; Anderson said fair organizers want parents to know that their children do not have to be in the car with them for pick-up. They can simply pull up and provide the number of students they need supplies for, and they will be attended to.

"We're just providing the service of helping the parents get some of the school supplies that they need," Anderson said. "The event is put on by the Moniteau County Alliance for Kids, which is the organization that we get donations to buy the supplies so we're able to provide it free and help parents be able to get their school supplies without having to go out and buy them."

Anderson said families of children from around the county are welcome at the event. She said any youth from the county's outlying schools — such as Jamestown, Tipton, High Point, Clarksburg and Latham — are eligible to receive supplies at the fair.

The event isn't possible, Anderson said, without the generosity of the surrounding community.

"The Back to School Fair happens because of donations from businesses and churches," Anderson said. "With the community's help of providing donations, we're able to go out and provide the service to make it a little bit easier for parents before their kids go back to school."

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