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Start year off right with Back to School Bash

| Friday, July 12, 2013, 12:41 a.m.

The Alle-Kiski Valley's Salvation Army locations are hoping to alleviate some of the stress that accompanies parents and students during back-to-school season.

Registration is open for the Back to School Bash events at the Salvation Army's Allegheny Valley and New Kensington locations.

“This is important because it's one less thing a child and parent should have to worry about this time of year,” said Jared Starnes, community outreach director for the Allegheny Valley branch.

Starnes said the Brackenridge location's bash, which will take place Aug. 10, will provide students with free haircuts, dental checkups and school supplies.

“The only requirement is the student has to be in grades kindergarten to 12th,” he said.

About 45 percent of students in the Highlands Area School District, the main district covered by the Allegheny Valley Salvation Army, qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, according to the state Department of Education.

New Kensington Capt. Elvie Carter said that without a program like the Back to School Bash some students would be behind at school before the year even begins.

“We want all of our kids to start off the year the right way and have a successful school year,” Carter said.

“Times are still very difficult,” he said. “When school arrives, there are extra costs; this will help the parents and the kids. It gives kids a fair advantage. It allows the kids to have the necessary school supplies.”

Carter said the New Kensington event, which is on Aug. 8, is open to students in the New Kensington-Arnold and Burrell school districts.

In New Kensington-Arnold, about 56 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, while in the Burrell School District, about 21 percent qualify.

“We've been doing this in conjunction with Huntington Bank for the last three years,” Carter said. “Each student will get a new backpack filled with school supplies.”

Carter said he expects there to be more than 300 children receiving school supplies at the two locations.

“We hope we can serve as many kids as possible,” he said. “We hope it will go a long way for a lot of kids.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.

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