The Reverend Doctor Norris E. Jackson Jr., pastor of the Bethel A.M.E. Church, created the Beloit Coalition of Churches with 13 other Beloit churches to connect with the community more. The Back to School Health & Resource Fair is the first event of its kind that the coalition has put on together with Jackson leading the charge.
The fair was held Saturday from noon—4 p.m. at Summit Park in Beloit.
“I’m telling you it’s really turned out,” Jackson said. “We had three tables, double stacked with book-bags, that we’re giving away into the hands of our children. We have hygiene packs that we’re giving away.”
He was inspired to create the hygiene packs for the event because over 500 children in the Beloit schools are currently homeless and he wanted to do something about that. The event also gave away gift bags to local children who attended.
Many nonprofit organizations were at the fair to provide information including Project 16:49, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Community Action, Beloit Health System, Walgreens and the School District of Beloit.
“The whole point of this was to encourage our children. They’ve been set up at home with virtual learning and hybrid (learning),” Jackson said. “This to me is the first year that they’re going to be doing in-person (since the pandemic). We got to get our kids’ minds ready. We didn’t want to wait until the last minute.”
Jackson was grateful to Walgreens for coming to the fair and giving out COVID-19 vaccinations to those who wanted them and also giving away COVID-19 testing kits.
“Everyone here is giving,” he said. “We have the Beloit school system. What can I say about them? They are just awesome. They provided food and they also are doing STEM projects. The fire department is here and it’s just been awesome.”
Representatives from Beloit City Hall and City Council and State Rep. Mark Spreitzer also attended and mingled with the crowds.