Literacy Day returns Aug. 7 with booths, bounce houses and free back-to-school supplies

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite

Families have plenty of things to consider as the school year looms less than a month away, from school registrations to shopping for clothes. Hundreds of area families can have some of that worry lifted next week thanks to the Arbuckle Literacy Leadership’s Literacy Day and thousands of dollars worth of free school supplies. 

“People can learn about all the organizations here in Ardmore and also get school supplies along the way,” said Elizabeth Gaylor, treasurer for Arbuckle Literacy Leadership and chair of the 2021 Literacy Day. 

Literacy Day started in 2014 to provide families with school supplies, haircuts and health screenings with the atmosphere of a block party at Central Park. Last year, the pandemic drastically changed the event and prevented haircuts and health screenings. 

“Last year we did a drive through event. While that was very successful, I’m very excited to return to a somewhat normal event,” Gaylor said on Tuesday.

Education and classrooms:Summer school, enrichment programs in full swing for Ardmore elementary students

Students sign up for Literacy Day Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. After COVID-19 made the event drive-thru last year, families will again be invited to visit Central Park on Saturday, Aug. 8, for a more traditional Literacy Day 2021.

Returning this year will be first responders, bounce houses for children, and snacks and information booths staffed with volunteers and sponsors. Once registered, families can visit each booth for supplies, information and receive a free backpack. 

Unlike Literacy Days before the pandemic, on-site haircuts and health exams will not be available but Gaylor said Ardmore Premier Eyecare will provide eye exam vouchers and Storts Dental will provide dental exam vouchers. 

Many of the supplies given away to families for free were made possible by donations from four main contributors. Gaylor said the Ardmore Public Library, Dollar General Literacy Fund, ProLiteracy and the Oklahoma Literacy Coalition donated nearly $8,000 for the supplies and backpacks to be furnished. 

First Bank and Trust will be on site with hot dogs and snacks, and vehicles and personnel from the Ardmore Fire Department and Carter County Sheriff’s Office will be on hand. The Carter County Health Department will also be available with a mobile COVID-19 vaccine unit.

Volunteers manage the Literacy Day drive-thru Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, at St. Philip's Episcopal Church. This year's event will return to Central Park with outdoor booths and bounce houses but organizers say precautions will still be taken considering the pandemic.

Gaylor asks for families to practice social distancing during the outdoor event considering a recent jump in the number of active COVID-19 cases in Carter County. She said hand sanitizer will be available at booths and masks can be provided, if necessary.

Registration booths will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7, on the corner of McLish Avenue and F Street Southwest. Limited parking will be available at the St. Philip's Episcopal Church parking lot.

Gaylor said enough supplies will be available for about 600 students and any remaining supplies will be donated to HFV Wilson Community Center's Back to School event on Monday, Aug. 9.

Volunteers wear face masks as they hand school supplies to a student at Literacy Day Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Literacy Day 2021, set for Aug. 7, will return to Central Park with bounce houses, snacks and information booths but onsite health screenings and haircuts will not be available.