It’s time again |  News, Sports, Work

It’s time again | News, Sports, Work

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Volunteers from the Douglas Dreamers 4-H Club help sort and organize school supplies Wednesday in preparation for filling backpacks that Upper Des Moines Opportunity will hand out at Tuesday’s Back-to-School Block Party. From left are: Kara McGonnell, 16; Cora Anderson, 12; Ella Anderson, 11; Kaci McGonegle, 11; and Morgan Bodhold, 17.

As summer winds down, the start of a new school year is just around the corner, and two local agencies are teaming up to provide a one-stop shop for just about everything families will need to get back to school.

Fort Dodge Community Health Center and Upper Des Moines Opportunities Inc. will host a back-to-school party from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at CHC, 126 N. 10th St. The event is free and open to the public.

In previous years, the two organizations have held separate events, but this year they decided to collaborate on the block party.

“It just makes sense for families, community resources and our donors to hold our events together.” said Regina Surbier, CHC Outreach Coordinator. “With the renovation of our lower level, we were able to offer space for backpacking this year.”

“I think it makes it easier that we don’t have multiple events where families have to find time and transportation and be out in the heat,” added Jamie Johnston, UDMO Family Development and Self-Sufficiency Program Specialist.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Evelyn Ahrens, 13, a member of the Douglas Dreamers 4-H Club, helps sort and pack school supplies for the backpacks that Upper Des Moines Opportunity will distribute Tuesday at the Back-to-School Block Party at the Community Health Center, 126 N St. .the 10th

UDMO expects to distribute about 300 backpacks filled with school supplies to area families in need of financial assistance. Many of the backpacks and supplies were donated by local people, businesses and organizations, Johnston said. UDMO also purchases school supplies when there are insufficient donations.

This week, volunteers from the Douglas Dreamers 4-H Club help sort, organize and pack school supplies and backpacks. 4-H’ers have volunteered to stuff UDMO backpacks for many years, said club leader Linda Klein. Klein is also the program coordinator and co-leader of the PROSPER Extension and Outreach team at Iowa State University – Webster County.

“It’s good to have everyone here,” Johnston said. “It makes it go a little faster when we’re packing.”

The Community Health Center will offer visits for free child screenings, immunizations, sports screenings and dental screenings during the event. Appointments are available from 10am to 4pm, but 5pm to 8pm will be walk-ins only. Registration documents can be completed in advance at

“The real party starts at 5pm” Sourbier said. “Over 20 businesses and organizations will be set up with activity booths. From free socks to spinning art and basketball shooting, this will be a fun event for everyone.”

Health services will take place in the CHC building and the rest of the fun, food, games, resources and backpacks will be in the parking lot behind the CHC.

Webster County pork producers will be on the grill serving a free meal of pork burgers, beans, chips, a cookie and water.

Mickey Shubin, head of prevention at Community and Family Resources, will be on hand to talk to parents and caregivers about the ways teens hide substance use.

The Wake Up Call Pack is full of everyday items that teenagers can use to cover up their alcohol, cigarette, smoking and drug use. The backpack was put together by people with drug addiction experience, parents whose children have become involved with drugs and alcohol, and input from law enforcement and school administrators.

UDMO is still accepting applications for families in need of financial assistance for school supplies. Applications are available at UDMO, 1325 First Ave. S. The backpacks at Tuesday’s event are for Webster County students, but UDMO will have applications for similar programs in other counties the agency serves.

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