The third annual Gabby Strong Back to School Giveaway is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, in the open air of the football field off of MacCorkle Avenue in Marmet.
Backpacks with school supplies for elementary through high school-age students will be distributed, as will some shoes (depending on availability), for the upcoming school year. One backpack per child will be available as supplies permit.
Children must be present on Saturday to receive supplies and they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Masks are required and social distancing will be observed during the giveaway.
The giveaway is being organized by Gabby Strong Foundation founder Sandra Kay Crawford of Cabin Creek, who established it and other area fundraisers in honor and memory of her granddaughter, Gabriella Nichole Lynch, who was born in February 2014 and died on Dec. 24, 2017.
“Before she was born, the doctors said her head looked too big,” said Gabriella’s father, Dakotah Lynch of Cabin Creek, who also serves as the Gabby Strong Foundation vice president. “They checked it out and she had a normal birth, but, after a couple of months, she started having seizures. They found out she had seizure disorder and cerebral palsy — the list of illnesses was 20 different diagnoses of what they found.
“She ended up passing away from heart complications — they just couldn’t keep up with them,” Lynch said.
He said backpacks are donated for the yearly Gabby Strong Back to School Giveaway, with folders, pencils, crayons and other essential classroom supplies within them.
“The last couple of years have gone pretty well,” Lynch noted. “Our very first year at the Cabin Creek Church, we had a couple hundred bags and they went really quickly.”
Since 2017, Gabby Strong Foundation efforts have included providing community members in need with not only school supplies, but medical and other items such as wheelchairs, medical car seats costing $5,000 each, and $1,000 scholarships for area students who have made a positive impact in their community.
The group has also supported area softball and baseball teams and tournaments and sponsored the yearly Turkey Bowl Tournament football games held at Riverside High School.
“We just try to help families that have special needs kids; if they have equipment they need, we try to help them,” Lynch said. “We go to hospitals, especially around Christmas, to give out gifts to the kids. We go to CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital, and we try to go up to Morgantown, too.”
For more information about Saturday’s back to school supply giveaway, contact Sandra Kay Crawford at 304-549-3400 or go to the Gabby Strong page on Facebook.