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From backpacks to haircuts, Back 2 School event has hundreds of kids ready for first day



More than 650 kids registered to receive donated school supplies and services at the 8th Annual Back 2 School event in La Crosse.

Annabella Nemec is excited. School is about to start and that means she gets to go back to art class.

The second grader was even more thrilled Wednesday to find a teal and pink backpack, along with a tissue box for her classroom featuring a favorite cartoon character, to bring with her on the first day of school.

Annabella was one of 650 students at the 8th Annual Back 2 School event at the La Crosse Center, where community donations helped families get the school supplies they need.

“It got a lot of stuff in my backpack,” Annabella said. “It was so much.”

Annabella Nemec gathers school supplies as she prepares to enter the second grade.

Donations provided clothes, haircuts, vaccinations and other health screenings.

“I think it just really gives the children a good start on their first day of school,” Shannon Parker, financial wellness advocate at Catholic Charities, said. “It makes them feel like they can be just like their friends and have new things and do well in school.”

Annabella came to the event with her mother, Lois Mchenry-Nemec.

Mom was relieved community support could help her daughter get what she needs.

“I think it is great because some of us that live in low-income housing or some of us that don’t have full-time jobs, it is just a blessing to be able to come here and be able to get help and not have to worry,” Mchenry-Nemec said.

Sisters Lilli and Emilie Picitaci typically spend their summer days playing outside or swimming, but on Wednesday, they too were eager to see what Back 2 School had in store.

Sisters Lilli and Emilie Picitaci will enter the fifth and third grade respectively.

Both girls were looking forward to having a fresh haircut to show off on their first day of school.

“It is a great event,” Diane Danielson, their mother, said. “It helps out many families in the area with school supplies. Haircuts are great. It’s convenient. It’s all in one place. It definitely helps out.”

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse said it is still hoping to raise $4,000 to help more children.

Anyone can make a donation online.

Mid-West Family Broadcasting in La Crosse teamed up with Catholic Charities, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse, The Salvation Army of La Crosse County, School District of La Crosse and the La Crosse County Health Department to provide school supplies for families.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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