QUINCY -- All the details aren't finalized, but Rev. Orville Jones wants the community to know one thing is certain -- the Back to School Help Fair will take place as usual this year.
"The essential things that we try to provide will still take place, just in a different format for this year only," said Jones, who pastors First Baptist Church and is part of a team working throughout the year to coordinate the fair. "It will be a drive-thru give-away."
Plans call for the fair to take place 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8 at Iles Elementary School, 3111 N. 12th, instead of the traditional site of First Baptist.
"Some aspects of the Help Fair cannot take place because of the COVID issue. We won't be doing haircuts," Jones said.
Backpacks filled with school supplies will be available, and some clothing will be distributed in a system that's still to be determined. Free physicals will be available, again with details still to be determined.
Churches throughout the community are providing backpacks and school supplies for the fair again this year, and information about how to donate clothing is available by calling First Baptist at 217-223-4468.
"It's looking a little different this year. That's to handle the COVID situation and to keep those who are helping and volunteering safe," Jones said.
But, Jones said, it was important to hold the fair again this year.
"This need is great, and this year obviously greater. We have more people that are out of work at this time," Jones said. "We still want to be able to meet the needs of our kids."
Meeting those needs takes the support of volunteers from all walks of life, different backgrounds and differing faiths from across the city – a key blessing, Jones said, which makes the fair possible for its 23rd year.
"It's really one of, I believe, Quincy's finest hours where we're able to make an impact on lives," he said.
Jones hopes the fair will return to its traditional format in 2021.
"Hopefully by next year we will have some kind of answer for COVID which will make it possible for us to go ahead and do the fair as we have done it," he said.