Back to School Bash is Tuesday

The 15th annual Back to School Bash will be coming to Fort Dodge on Tuesday.

The event, which provides backpacks and school supplies to under privileged children throughout Webster County, will be at the Crossroads Mall from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Bev Verschoor, outreach specialist with Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc., which puts on the Back to School Bash, said this year is the first time the event has been held indoors.

“There’s over 55 vendors, and we’ve got a bouncy house and a bouncy obstacle course coming,” Verschoor said.

The Fort Dodge police and fire departments will be there, as well as the Webster County Pork Producers, which will be providing pork sandwiches, and the Fort Dodge Noon Kiwanis, which will be serving hot dogs.

“The Dariette will be giving out ice cream,” she said. “There are games and activities to participate in.”

Melissa Verschoor, Crossroads Mall marketing director, who also happens to be Bev Verschoor’s daughter, said the UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center Life Flight air ambulance is also scheduled to make an appearance, provided it isn’t needed for an emergency.

“We’ve got a lot of everything,” Melissa Verschoor said.

The Back to School Bash is being held the same night the Crossroads Mall is also hosting a watch party for “The Fireball Run,” which will be filming at least two episodes in Fort Dodge this fall. As a result, she said there could potentially be a large crowd that shows up.

Bev Verschoor said last year, more than 1,000 people were at the Back to School Bash.

Besides the games and entertainment, Bev Verschoor said UDMO will also be providing backpacks to children whose families can’t afford them.

“This will be the 15th year we’ve done it,” she said. “Right now we’re at about 600 backpacks.”

They’re still taking registrations for backpacks through Tuesday, she said, “so I’m going to guess we’re going to do at least another 800 this year.”

“And those backpacks, they do have school supplies in them,” Verschoor said. “Spirals, paper, pencils, pens. These are the general things that each child needs to start the school year with.”

Families who would like to register should stop by Upper Des Moines Opportunity, 113 S. 10th St., and fill out a registration form.

“A lot of these kids that we help, they’re all from low-income families,” Bev Verschoor said. “So a lot of these kids would not start school with supplies they needed if we didn’t help them out.”

According to Bev Verschoor, there’s a chance that this might be the last year of the Back to School Bash because there is no money available in next year’s budget for it.

“Because our budget at Upper Des Moines was cut for next year, we may not be able to continue with this program,” she said.

Each backpack, combined with school supplies, costs about $30.

“A lot of things Upper Des Moines does is because people contribute to it,” Bev Verschoor said. “And we’ve got businesses and individuals, agencies that contribute money. Some of the churches contribute money to us.”

While sometimes the families they work with they continuously see year after year, she said, “they’re still in a situation where they need help.”

“It isn’t necessarily the parents not working,” she said. “It’s parents working and not making enough. We help a lot of kids and it would be a shame for a child to go to school without the necessary supplies.”

If anyone wants to donate, they can call UDMO at 576-7774.

She said that everyone is welcome to come to the Back to School Bash.

“If they want to come out and see the vendors, all the different agencies, businesses coming in with information about anything you can think of,” she said. “The community is invited to come out and join us.”