First Day Fest saves families money on school supplies

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – School starts in a few days for students in the Lowcountry and it’s time to start back-to-school shopping. However, with rising inflation, parents say they are spending more money on school supplies now than in the past.

Hundreds of those parents attended this year’s First Day Fest at the Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston to pick up free school supplies. First Day Fest is an annual event where volunteers distribute free back-to-school supplies, food and additives that can be helpful to families at the start of the school year.

Many people say that this event is so useful because the price of supplies in stores is currently so high.

Malinda Terry has been a First Day Fest volunteer for 12 years. She distributed backpacks full of school supplies to children. She says that before they had 20 bins full of backpacks. This year, they were only provided with nine bins.

“People struggle to take care of their own families,” Terry said. “They don’t have the means to make additional donations. Hopefully this will be the only year but we ran out of supplies after an hour and 15 minutes and since I’ve been doing this we’ve never run out of supplies. And I’ve been here, like I said, 12 years.

Terry says she is grateful to those who donated, but acknowledges that inflation has a lot to do with the low supply this year.

“Everything is more expensive,” Terry said. “And of course we take care of the supply chain. It’s just harder to get things. And, like I said, you have so many other things to focus on that we’re not able to donate like we’ve done in the past.

For those who got their hands on supplies, they say First Day Fest really helped them prepare for this school year.

“I like it because we get everything for free instead of paying,” said rising 5th grader Cayden Heyward.

James Island resident Sam Hazeltine says it’s great to see the community come together.

“It’s a really good cause,” Hazeltine said. “That’s how I could tell. Seeing children, it’s really great to see children wandering around. Tell them “Have a great school year”.

Some students, like rising 9th grader Trenton Mazyck, said he was going to save what supplies he had to make them last longer.

“I’m not going to start everything on day one,” Mazyck said. “I’m going to like to keep some at home and I’m going to bring some of it to school, like if I need it when I come home to do my homework, I can have it.”

The majority of families walked out of First Day Fest with supplies and said whatever they didn’t get, they would buy the rest from the stores.

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