FORT VALLEY -- Jaylin Blassingame, 9, said the best thing about the Learning, Expanding and Preparing Back to School Bash at Festival Park on Friday was climbing the tower and playing on the special attractions brought in for the event.
But he said he was also proud of the blue bag full of paper, notebooks, pens, pencils and other school supplies I Think I Am Foundation volunteers gave him.
Bags stuffed with supplies were given to more than 400 Fort Valley and surrounding area schoolchildren during the festival.
Jaylins mom, Takeeda Blassingame, of Bonaire, said she knew she and everybody at the event appreciated the supplies and the chance to have fun with their kids as the new school year got underway.
Fun, at least, until Fridays thunder, lightning and downpour sent participants scurrying and volunteers hurrying to pack away their goods.
I dont think Ive ever been so wet, said Deanna Moore, founder of the I Think I Am Foundation that sponsored the festival along with the city of Fort Valley. The storm came near the end when we were all just having fun, so we had plenty of time to give away the supplies. It was worth it; it sure was.
Moore said counting adults, 800-plus people attended the festival.
She said 30-plus organizations from Fort Valley, Warner Robins and Macon made donations and provided giveaways for the event. In addition, civic groups, vendors, entertainers and others were on hand to make the occasion a fun and informative party for children.
City officials said they were glad to be part of the event.
We were glad to get behind the (I Think I Am) foundation and get all this stuff to the kids, Mayor John Stumbo said. We have a fall festival for children each year and now this, too. It brings us together as a community, and thats good for everyone.
Moore said the LEAP Back to School Festival was just one aspect of I Think I Ams work. She said in years past other school supply giveaways have been held in Middle Georgia communities, and more are on tap for towns such as Montezuma and Roberta.
She said last year, I Think I Am raised and gave away $15,000 in school supplies, scholarships, literacy programs and other items to help students. She said the foundation seeks to help at-risk children and their parents understand the importance of education and being involved together in school.
I Think I Am conducts fundraisers such as a Celebrity Soiree and Sports Moms Tour to pay for pro-education efforts. Moore is mother of former Houston County High School football star and former Chicago Bears defensive end Kyle Moore.
Its just a passion I have to help these kids, she said. You know when an idea just drops in your head, and you have to do it? Thats what started all this.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.