CLINTON -- Youth organizers are set to see the culmination of their efforts in planning next Thursday's riverfront Back 2 School Bash in partnership with National Night Out.
Members of the Clinton Leo Club, a student-based branch of the Lions Club, have spent recent months preparing for the Aug. 15 event at the Riverview Bandshell which will offer back-to-school essentials like school supplies, haircuts and sports physicals all free of charge.
Scheduled for 4-7 p.m., the event is a way for families to be fully prepared for the 2019-2020 school year at no cost. The students are hoping to ride the success of the 2018 version.
"We're trying to kind of build off last year's event," Clinton High School junior Molly Shannon said Thursday at the Leo Club meeting at Deanna's Java Station. "We've learned from each other and from the core of this group to be better people, so being able to give back to the community in a way like this is special."
Bigger and better -- that's the idea for this year's second version of the event, according to CHS freshman Ashtyn Dorhn. Last year proved more than successful, with school supply inventory running out quickly and overflowing lines for free back-to-school sports physicals and haircuts from local stylists.
The plan for this year is to be able to provide even more supplies and cuts with the help of an expanded budget and continued tireless planning.
"Our biggest goal is to just make everything a little bigger but also a little more organized," Dorhn said. "School supplies, haircuts and physicals were the most popular thing last year, and we're planning on being able to offer even more of those things this year."
Partnering with National Night Out, a countrywide initiative which introduces students to local law enforcement officers and first responders, the event last year proved fruitful in strengthening the community relationship between citizens and officials.
Leo Club members have held regular weekly meetings with law enforcement officials to plan the dual-importance event.
"I think it's really important to get students to feel that they're part of the community," CHS senior Kira Price said. "By meeting their first responders, I think it helps them feel more comfortable in asking for help if they ever need it, and just knowing who's around them promotes that feeling."
Price also expressed pride in the group's ability to offer the free supplies and services to families who may be struggling and unable to provide those things to their young students otherwise.
Leo Club leader and co-founder Emma Folland, a district media specialist, smiled Thursday as she listened to her students speak about the group's community impact. The group has "come such a long way" since its inception in recent years, Folland said.
CHS senior Keira Fullick vehemently agreed.
"I think we're all here for a purpose, and it's because we enjoy giving back to our community," Fullick said. "Being able to volunteer our time, it just feels good giving back, really."