Annual event helps connect students with supplies for upcoming school year

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite
Students sign up for Literacy Day 2019 in Central Park. Due to COVID-19, this year's event will be a drive-thru at St. Philips Episcopal Church on Saturday.

A pandemic has not stopped most schools from beginning a new academic year, so one event that many families rely on for back-to-school season must also continue. The Ardmore Literacy Leadership Coalition will hold the seventh annual Literacy Day on Saturday, but in a different form that years past.

Instead of a festival-like atmosphere at Central Park in downtown Ardmore, organizers have planned for a drive-thru event at St. Philips Episcopal Church directly south of the park. About 500 students received supplies last year and, despite the pandemic-related changes, organizers expect an even bigger turnout than last year.

“Having a place where families know they can come every year that is going to ease some of that burden, that means a lot,” said coalition Executive Director Ari James on Tuesday. “Growing up as a child of a single parent myself, I’ve kind of seen that struggle.”

Nearly three dozen sponsors have donated money, supplies and volunteers to help Literacy Day 2020. James said many new sponsors this year have been added to help fill bags of school supplies, offer dental hygiene supplies, and even vouchers for eye exams. Meals have also been donated for those working at the event.

Aside from Ardmore Literacy Leadership Coalition organizations joining public and private sponsors, James said several individuals also made donations but wished to remain anonymous. According to an event organization document, up to 600 students will receive free school supplies this year.

James said registration that was needed for previous Literacy Days will not be needed this year since many events, like health screenings, will not be available due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We’re not requiring any personal information outside of a family name and the number and ages of children. We don’t have any identification requirements,” James said. “We’re just asking that we have the kids visible in the car, restrained as they should be, because there’s not going to be parking or leaving the vehicle.”

The Ardmore Literacy Leadership Coalition’s Literacy Day 2020 will be on Saturday, Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at St. Philips Episcopal Church.