While many parents were using tax-free weekend as an opportunity to get deals on school supplies, a local church was giving away free back-to-school necessities for those in need. Waples Memorial United Methodist Church held its annual back-to-school fair Saturday at the church.

Waples prepared about 200 bags of supplies to give out to area children. Of those, 150 were for elementary school children and 50 for high school-aged youth.

“We want to reach out to the community,” Waples Missions and Outreach Director Kim Huff said. “We do not just want to reach the children, but we want to get families inside of the doors. We want them to know about all the things we offer here. We just want to be a part of the community.”

Along with the 200 bags given young people, the back-to-school fair included free hair cuts, eye examinations and free tooth brushes and dental supplies.

“When putting food on the table is hard, an eye exam can just be out of the question for some people,” Huff said. “We try to meet the needs of people. It’s a basic need, but it’s a need. We also want to touch base with people and see what we can do for them.”

Grayson College, the Denison Public Library and Environmental Protection Services were also on site giving out information.

“We get to talk to not just children, but to parents as well,” Grayson College enrollment and academic advisor Charles Leslie Jr. said. “We want them to know that we are here and they can go to school while their children are in school. They can get financial aid. School starts Aug. 21 at the college.”

Leslie said that companies that are coming into this area are looking for an educated workforce.

“For the children, we want to plant the seed of education while they are young,” he said. “We have high school aged children that have come through as well. We talk to them about dual-credit courses. That is where you can take college courses and they count for both high school and college courses. We have had a few young people that have graduated from college before they graduated from high school.”

Haleigh Bibb brought her daughter to the fair at Waples because she thought it would be a good opportunity to get school supplies.

“It is important because there are children who do not have money for things like school supplies,” she said. “This is a good thing to do because just like food drives, it helps.”

Bibb said that she likes to see the organization helping members of the community because it helps the community grow.

“We love the community,” Huff said. “We host Project Transformation for youth during the summer time. We see a lot of the children that come to that, come back for the back to school. They remember us and we are developing a relationship with the families of this area through activities like this. That is really nice. It is another way for us to connect.”