Smiles and excitement abounded at Diekroeger Park, Wright City, on Saturday, as dozens of children proudly showed off their fresh haircuts and new backpacks.

It was part of a back to school event hosted by Unite Wright City and multiple local hair salons, which provided school supplies and haircuts for around 90 students. As they arrived, children received backpacks prefilled with supplies to fit their age group.

“I really appreciate it, because some of us can’t afford it,” said Tracy Williams, who brought her son, Camron. “This means a lot to me. I’m really blessed and pleased.”

Williams said it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with the growing school supply list in modern society. She said events like those organized by Unite Wright City take a tremendous burden off families.

David Overall also spoke highly of the event. He brought six children from the Hispanic Ministry, who beamed with joy as they gathered the hygiene items that were also offered.

Event co-coordinator Heidi Halleman said the effort put into the event paid off simply through seeing the expressions on the faces of the children.

“It wasn’t just ‘come up get my school supplies and leave,’ ” said Halleman. “We had games and a coloring contest, ways for the kids to get involved. We thought it turned out really well.”

The event was the cumulative success of multiple volunteers donating their time, including four hairdressers, who stayed busy styling and cutting.

“I think it’s a great event to help,” said Amy Swaringen. “Even if it’s just a haircut and not school supplies, it means a lot to the community. I’ve got four kids, so getting it for the younger two who aren’t in college is a great help.”

Unite Wright City formed in July of last year. Halleman said the organization was able to serve 18 students last year on a hurried effort. This year the group anticipated 50 to 60 students would attend the event, but was able to serve 90 with generous donations from local businesses.

“We will continue to partner with all the other groups in Wright City and hopefully make it a larger event in the future,” said Halleman.

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