Annual party helps kids get ready for new school year

Some of the 3,100 backpacks given away Tuesday at the Annual Back to School party at Grossinger Motors Arena. (Photo by Blake Haas/WJBC)


By Howard Packowitz and Blake Haas

BLOOMINGTON – It was a heartwarming sight at Grossinger Motors Arena in Downtown Bloomington on Tuesday, according to one of the organizers of a Back to School party.

Some 3,100 kids from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade went home with backbacks to get the school year started right. HairMasters gave students haircuts at no charge, and many other services were offered, according to Back-to-School Alliance Chair Jan Meadows.

High School kids needing help with supplies were told to contact their school’s guidance office.

“When you only have enough money, it can only go so far. It’s not going to things like piano lessons and ballet lessons, and soccer clothes, and all those kinds of things,” said Meadows.

“So it’s important that we find a way to help our families that want access to those things,” she added.

According to Meadows, it takes a full year to plan the party.

“We just have people everywhere. Insurance agents, doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, Advocate Fitness at BroMenn, all the women and men that exercise there, bringing in school supplies for the kids,” said Meadows.

“It’s very heartwarming to live in a community that is so giving,” she said.

Kids who get free or reduced priced lunches were eligible to receive the free backpacks.

Howard Packowitz can be reached at

Blake Haas can be reached at


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