Fresh Start designed to get school year off right

Backpacks, back-to-school supplies, haircuts – even hot dogs – will be given away at the first Fresh Start: A Wicomico County Community Back-to-School Event on Sunday, Aug. 26.

Set for noon to 5 p.m. at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center, Fresh Start will also provide information about community services and prizes.

Some 4,000 students and families are expected to attend, and 4,000 backpacks of various colors and sizes distributed to children in grades kindergarten through high school.

Financial need will not have to be proven.

“Each student will pick out their backpack and then move through the supply line. Each student, dependent on age, will be given composition notebooks, spiral notebooks, folders, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, glue sticks and more. Each station will have volunteers handing out supplies that students will be able to add to their backpacks,” James Simmons, recreation superintendent for the Wicomico County Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism, explained.

“There are 14,500 students in the Wicomico County Public School system. Sixty percent qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. This is truly an event put on by the community for our community. There is truly a need in our community and we hope that at the very least by them heading back to school with a new backpack, supplies and a haircut they have a fresh start on the year and can better focus in the classroom,” Simmons said.

Activities will include a dunking tank and inflatable obstacle course and information will be available about resources such as the Library, Health Department, Board of Education, vision screenings, dentists, Peninsula Regional Medical Center services and wellness.

Haircuts will be courtesy of Dorian Purnell, owner of D-stinct Designs barber shop in Berlin, and fellow barbers.

The committee organizing Fresh Start is composed of representatives from the Rotary Club of Salisbury, Salisbury Sunrise Rotary Club, Rotary Club of Wicomico County, the Optimist Club, Salisbury Jaycees, Extraordinary League of Gentlemen, Salisbury Elks, Deadstock SBY, the library, Board of Education, Wicomico Recreation, Parks and Tourism and the Health Department.

“Together the group has been able to raise a total of $25,000 from these organizations as well as the Donnie Williams Foundation, The Community Foundation, Wicomico Friends of Recreation and Parks, PRMC, Bank of Delmarva, Redmen Tony Tank Tribe #149 and Pohanka of Salisbury,” Simmons said.

To donate, call Simmons at 410-548-4900 or e-mail to

The plan is for Fresh Start to become an annual event.

“Backpacks, supplies and haircuts are a great start, but we will definitely be keeping our eyes open to see if there are more ways that we can help in the future,” Simmons said.


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