On an August day more fitting for the pool or beach, a record crowd of parents and children attended the 12th annual Chester Community Fair & Book Bag Giveaway with “Back to School” on their minds.

Macedonia Seventh-Day Adventist Church Elder Tony Heath marveled at the size of the crowd still pouring into the church grounds on Yarnall St. in Chester during late Sunday afternoon.

“We know we are well over a thousand,” Heath said about the turnout. “We want to make a difference and make change in the City of Chester. We want to aid people who are in need. The Better Living Center is all about the community doing what we have to do to make the change. Getting these kids ready for school is ‘Number One.”

Aside from free book bags, some families were chosen to receive free uniforms.

Keystone First and the Better Living Center hosted the community fair and book bag giveaway to promote wellness and help children in need prepare for the coming school year. Venders on site offered health screenings, mental health support, food and activities for children.

Joanne McFall, market president of Keystone First, said for them, education is really a healthcare issue since better success of education in early life will translate to success down the road.

“With the kids we are really looking to make sure that they have what they need to start the school year off in a good way so they can be successful and hopefully it will help them have better health outcomes,” said McFall.

Some 67,000 Keystone First members live in Delaware County and 12,000 live in Chester.

“It’s important for us to connect to people because it’s often difficult for our members to get to where they need to be for care,” said McFall. “We like to bring it to them and get to them early to help with preventative care and health education so they don’t have larger health issues later.”

Monica Buckley stood in the long line for water ice with her family, the youngest members sporting new book bags.

“It’s a beautiful and a good thing for the children,” said Buckley, a first time attendee of the fair.

Are her kids looking forward to going back to school?

“Yes, they are. Whether they want to or not,” said Buckley.

Vision of God performed live at the event.

Vision of God performed live at the event.

Dion Allen, Anthony Washington and Latif McIver stand guard at the bounce house.

Dion Allen, Anthony Washington and Latif McIver stand guard at the bounce house.

Keystone First representatives (from left) Leland Laury, Meg Grant and Joanne McFall said events like this are important ways the state’s largest Medicaid provider stays in touch with its over 60,000 Delaware County members, 12,000 of whom live in Chester.

Keystone First representatives (from left) Leland Laury, Meg Grant and Joanne McFall said events like this are important ways the state’s largest Medicaid provider stays in touch with its over 60,000 Delaware County members, 12,000 of whom live in Chester.

Book bags and school uniforms were given away to dozens of families at the event.

Book bags and school uniforms were given away to dozens of families at the event.

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