Back to School event readies children, parents for the new school year

David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central. Kathy Grimes, front third from right, poses for a photo with volunteers who dressed as superheroes and Thatcher Police officers at Saturday's drive-through Back to School Fair at Eastern Arizona College.

THATCHER —An estimated 450 children were able to get a backpack, school supplies and vouchers for two complete outfits at last weekend’s annual Back to School Fair.

“You know, even with COVID, it’s really hard to get the word out sometimes. But our community finds a way to do that,” said Kathy Grimes, director of the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition, which put on the event each year.

This year, due to the pandemic, parents drove-through a parking lot at Eastern Arizona College and received the school supplies without exiting their vehicles.

In addition to free school supplies, parents received information about support programs as well as health information from Graham County Health Department.

Volunteer groups included Safford Lions Club, LifeLine Ambulance, local high school and college students who dressed as superheroes to take photos with the children, and Thatcher Police, which conducted the annual Dump The Drugs event in conjunction with the Back to School Fair.

Police collected about a half box of expired and unwanted prescription medications for proper disposal, a slightly lower than usual amount from when the event is held in April.

“A lot of our senior citizens . . . dispose of their prescription drugs and they’re a tough group to reach right now because of COVID. And we didn’t want to go out knocking on doors; we didn’t want to do that, we want to practice social distancing,” Grimes said.

Unwanted prescription medications can be dropped off for proper disposal at any of the law enforcement stations in the Gila Valley.