MASSENA — It was a half hour before the doors opened for the Massena Central School District’s second Ready 4 School event on Monday afternoon, and the line was beginning to build. And, even after the doors were opened, the line continued to build.
But, even though the attendees were waiting to enter the building, they still had an opportunity to visit with organizations that had set up in front of the high school.
Fences became clothes racks, displaying coats of varying colors and sizes, free for the taking. Massena Memorial Hospital offered free popcorn and cotton candy, along with information. The hospital had also donated three boxes of school supplies filled with pens, pencils, crayons, markers, pencil cases, glue sticks, scissors, rulers, notebooks and binders.
Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas also contributed four totes filled with school supplies, backpacks, lunch bags, water bottles, clothing and hygiene products, along with a $500 donation.
Hot dogs fresh off the grill, chips and drinks were available from the Massena Elks Lodge and United Steelworkers at another stand. Five long tables nearby were completely covered with winter hats, scarves and mittens, also free for the taking. Another booth was filled with 250 bicycle helmets, lined up on tables and piled high in boxes, courtesy of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP.
Representatives from the Boys and Girls Club of Massena and Horizons were also on hand to accept applications. Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Zach Monroe said they’ll begin their 2019-20 club activities a week after school opens to give the students time to get adjusted in their return to the classrooms.
Inside the school, the lobby was filled with representatives from a number of agencies, with others set up under sunny skies in the courtyard. They ranged from the Community Health Center of the North Country, BOCES Adult Education and Workforce Development and Renewal House, to the Nightengale Nighthawks Parent-Teacher Organization, North Country Migrant Education Program and Fidelis.
The Massena Salvation Army wanted to let people know about their regular activities — Sunday School and Sunday Service on Sundays, with a King’s Buffet the second Sunday of each month; Corps Cadets Teen Bible Study, Teen Group and Women’s Group on Tuesdays; Youth Group, ages 6 to 12, on Wednesdays; and Adult Bible Study and Prayer on Thursdays, with the Men’s Group meeting the first Thursday of each month.
Representatives from the Massena Baptist Church were also on hand to distribute bags that were filled with personal care items like deodorant, soap, toothpaste and tooth brushes.
Outside in the courtyard, under the shade of some trees, representatives from Simply You Wellness Spa, Studio 162 and the BOCES Seaway Tech Cosmetology program were offering free haircuts.
Books were in abundance on a table manned by representatives from The People Project, an initiative funded by New York State United Teachers and supported by the American Federation of Teachers. The group is working to revitalize St. Lawrence County with a focus on three main areas — economic development, mainly including travel and tourism; health and wellness, chiefly combating the opioid problem; and community schools. People Project Coordinator Mary Wills said, thanks to donations from New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, the project had received “pallets and pallets of books that range from pre-school to young adult” that were being handed out to students.
She said that when the New York State United Teachers heard about the events like Ready 4 School happening in the north country, they also donated items like hygiene items, socks, non-perishables and much more.
One of the current initiatives for the People Project is to promote fishing for students, focusing on those who don’t participate in organized events like sports. Ms. Wills said she is working with Massena Town Councilman Thomas C. Miller and town of Massena Tourism Promoter Donald Meissner, and they’re connecting with national fishing organizations to make the effort a reality.