The gymnasium at Waxahachie High School of Choice was filled with students and their parents on Tuesday for the third annual Operation: First Day of School.

The Waxahachie ISD-sponsored event provided students with free school supplies, clothes, haircuts, immunizations and dentistry services before heading to class Aug. 22.

“Today has gone really well and it is amazing to see how long the line is. The line just keeps staying about the same length. The people are so appreciative of it. It is really a great service for our community,” honorary co-chairman Paul Stevens said. “Today, I have been a personal shopper. I just try and point everyone to the right direction to the clothes and help them find their sizes to make sure it all fits. Then I take them to get their school supplies.”

With so many people volunteering their time to help throughout the day, Stevens said, “It really shows that people do care about the community and the people that live here. Someone is always willing to lend a hand to help someone out.”

While waiting in line, parents filled out a form listing the services they needed. Clothes donated to the drive were in good condition and sorted by size on movable racks, with shoppers allowed to select about six items.

District director of public relations Nicole Mansell said officials were estimating up to 600 families and 1,300 students would be helped.

About 200 volunteers worked the event, which had two shifts. Mansell estimated the drive collected and gave out about $40,000 worth of school supplies, which were prepackaged and sorted according to grade.

“Today has gone amazingly well and I have had no complaints. I am so thankful that it has gone so well and I can’t wait to start planning for next year,” she said.

Members of the Waxahachie Rotary Club handed out books to shoppers to encourage a love of reading. Rotarian Melissa Ballard said about 1,500 books for all ages were collected from throughout the community.

Emily Price, who served as a volunteer, passed out water and said the turnout was larger than in previous years because more people have heard about it.

“This is a great way to reach out to the community,” she said, with volunteer Joe Smith describing it as “a great event for the community because it helps and reaches so many families who are in need.”

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.