Hundreds of District 45 families attended the Villa Park Area Early Childhood Collaborative’s Back-to-School Resource Fair held on August 5 at the Tri-Town YMCA in Villa Park.
The event was sponsored by the Villa Park Area Early Childhood Collaborative (VPAECC), which includes School District 45, Easterseals, the Villa Park Public Library, and Tri-Town YMCA.
Local families were offered free school physicals and immunizations and visited interactive booths organized by community groups and businesses. The Resource Fair also included free lunch and entertainment for families.
Those in attendance had the opportunity to receive free backpacks that community volunteers filled with school supplies in preparation for the event. In all, over 200 backpacks were distributed.
“We want to help prepare our families for the new school year,” said District 45 Community Engagement Coordinator Claudia Garcia, who helped organize the event. “Villa Park is such a giving community, and so we thought that coming together as a community would be a way to help get our students ready for school.”
Despite the Saturday morning rain, Garcia said attendance was steady, and families were grateful for the back-to-school resources they needed.
Community organizations set up tents and stood behind tables to greet families. District 45 Early Childhood Center Principal Kelly Nettleton welcomed participants and was happy to make connections with families in the community.
“Our goal today is to reach out to families in the community with preschool-age children,” said Nettleton. “This has been a great way to provide information to local families.”
Nettleton said events like the Resource Fair are ideal for connecting with families who may be eligible for the preschool program rather than placing the burden on the family to find the school on their own.
Nettleton emphasized that while the at-risk portion of the Early Childhood program is full, the Special Education portion of the program is always open.
“Even though our at-risk portion is at capacity, it’s a good idea to get on the waiting list because as families move out or age out of the program, there is an opportunity for the next child on the waiting list.”
In a small gymnasium, District 45 School Board members volunteered by distributing backpacks filled with school supplies while other volunteers served free pizza slices, courtesy of Costco.
Sarah O’Donnell, chief executive officer for the Tri-Town YMCA, expressed pride in the local community for their support.
“This community has come together and embraced others,” said O’Donnell. “It’s a testament that despite the rain, so many were here to greet our families and ensure they are prepared for the school year.”
VPAECC is funded by the Illinois Birth to Five Initiative and Bright and Early DuPage. The collaborative seeks to unify and guide early childhood efforts in Villa Park for children birth to eight years and their care circles.
On behalf of VPAECC, thank you to all volunteers who stuffed backpacks, and donated school supplies and items — and to those who served as volunteers at the Resource Fair. A special thank you to many community partners who came together for our community, including:
Assisteens® of Chicagoland West
Birth to Five Illinois
Boy Scouts Troop 199
Community Housing Advocacy and Development (CHAD)
Cub Scouts Pack 62
DuPage County Area Project (DuCAP)
Elmhurst Christian Reform Church
FOCUS Nutrition Fitness Family
Frida Community Organization
Hamdard Health Alliance
Illinois Nutrition Education Programs
Immigrant Solidarity DuPage
Northeast DuPage Family and Youth Services (NEDFYS)
School District 45
Sky Centers Martial Arts
The Lions Club of Villa Park
The Outreach House
Villa Park Ace Hardware
Villa Park Bike, Pedestrian and Transit Subcommittee
Villa Park Police Department
Villa Park Public Library
VNA Health Care
DuPage County Health Department WIC Mobile Clinic
Willowbrook Jr. Warriors
York Center Community