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One woman laughed as she spoke about her daughter’s joy at the Tools for Schools Expo on Tuesday.

“She practically jumped over the table to get (her backpack),” she said.

The elementary school-aged girl was among nearly 800 kindergarten through 12th-grade students who got a backpack and a whole lot more at TrueNorth Community Services’ 15th annual Tools for School Expo.

The Tools for School student success program helps Newaygo County students from low-income families enter the 2018-2019 school year on a level playing field.  The lines were out the door, wrapping around the TrueNorth Service Center during the three-hour event in Fremont.

The students received a new backpack with essential school supplies. They also had the opportunity to get vision and dental exams from Family Health Care and eye screenings by Fremont Lions Club. Eight volunteer stylists provided almost 100 free haircuts. There were also community resources to access from about 20 local agencies and visits by the Newaygo Fire and Newaygo County Sheriff’s departments.

“I would probably be very stressed out if I wasn’t here,” said Lola Florez, who had her 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son in tow. “Because it’s fun going through here; it’s not fun going shopping.”

Bronson and Lanea Steffens brought their 6-year-old daughter, a Fremont first-grader. He called the event “generous.”

“While it’s a good organization and event for families who are less fortunate,” he said, “if you want people in the world to be positive, it takes positive. That’s what this is.”

Maranda Lee, of White Cloud, was accompanied by her three children, ages 13, 8 and 6. She said while Tools for School helps save time and money, the larger impact is being “ready for school. Plus, there were things to do here that were clearly more fun than just going out and getting school supplies.”

Christen Moffit, of Hesperia, came with her three high school-aged teen-agers.

“We come every year,” she said. “I absolutely love the program. I think it’s a very good thing.”

More than three dozen volunteers helped out at Tools for School Expo, said Mike Voyt, Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator for TrueNorth.

While 786 students had been served by Tools for School to date, TrueNorth is allowing approved families to still get backpacks with school supplies, said Lisa Daniell, Volunteer Resource Center Director for TrueNorth.

A community service of TrueNorth, Tools for School is sponsored, in part, by Choice One Bank, Fremont Area Community Foundation and Gerber Foundation.

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