FERRIS — When many in the county are focused on escaping the confines of Ellis County to embark on summer journeys, one city is already looking forward to the coming year and those in need.
Ferris ISD will hold its inaugural Back 2 School Benefit and Car & Truck Show at 10 a.m. July 29 at Ferris High School and will have food, giveaways, music — and free admission.
"All monetary donations and entry fees will go to the FISD Student Support Fund. The fund is to help homeless and unaccompanied youth and families in need to provide school supplies, uniforms, shoes, hygiene items and necessities or any other assistance due to financial, domestic or natural disaster or any other unforeseen tragic events," the informational event flyer stated.
Though there have been fundraisers before, event organizer Taylor Oster, the FISD Coordinator for Student Family Services, said this is the first car show they've done in the city to raise money for disadvantaged residents that cannot afford school essentials.
"I spearheaded the event but the idea came about because we're a small town here in Ferris and it just seems small towns like us get lost," Oster added. "We have a lot of students in the community and about 87 percent of them are low-income or underprivileged. We have a lot of students that need school supplies, uniforms, backpacks, shoes, hygiene items and things like that."
Oster's first step was to create a uniform store located within the ISD that gives parents the opportunity to buy and exchange uniforms before, during and after the school year at low-cost prices. The profits from the uniform store are then funneled into student support, which is used for all in need FISD students or to help with family emergency situations.
An annual survey conducted by Ohio-based Huntington Bank found that, on average throughout the United States and its outlying territories, a backpack and school supplies for middle-school students this year will run parents about $312, up more than $100 from last year — the large jump due mainly to a more expensive calculator. Outfitting a high school student will run just over $350, up from $330 last year.
The second step was to become a part of the Ferris area business association so she could open the doors of communication with local business owners. While she said there was a good turnout at the 2016 Back to School Fair and they were able to give away supplies and give free immunizations, it wasn't as big as she envisioned it.
Enter the car and truck show.
"I've seen a lot of Back-to-School fairs that the county's school districts had and the community has gotten involved. In Ferris, it seems like we've had a struggle getting local businesses involved and local community support," Oster continued. "It's a team effort when you're trying to get students to be proud of their school and give them that school spirit. It's been difficult, but we're getting there. I hope what we're doing this year will help further that cause. I wanted to try and start a new tradition and have a car show every year so we can get community support and help people in the surrounding areas come and see what our school district has to offer."
She said by inviting and appealing to the classic car enthusiasts in Ellis County, she hopes to eclipse the $4,000 mark set during last year's fair and fill the needs of every student in the district.
There will be a $250 grand prize and Best-in-Show plaque, a $100 Best-in-Show runner-up prize and plaque, a $50 award and Best-in-Show plaque for the motorcycle genre and $25 gift cards for choice awards. All entries will receive a certificate of participation and appreciation.
David Saunders, a Waxahachie resident and a member of the Governing Board of the Texas School for the Deaf, and Micheal Driggars, the current Ferris mayor, will be two of the judges. Saunders, the No. 1 judge, is no stranger to car shows as he has done them throughout the state.
There is a $25 fee for those competing in the car and truck show and any interested parties can contact Oster at email@example.com or 214-263-7899 for questions, concerns or more details. The car registration can be found online at http://bit.ly/2rJHjqD.
Oster said this year is the first year she can remember that there's been this much excitement in the community or business involvement for an event that will be much more than cars, mammoth engines and fast bikes. She said there would be everything from bounce houses, free haircuts and immunizations for children as well as a DJ, silent auctions and vendor giveaways.
"I'm hoping this will be the biggest, baddest event Ferris has ever seen and I hope it raises a lot of funds for kids in our community," Oster said. "We're an old town. There have been successful car shows in Red Oak with the Cruiser's Club and some in Waxahachie that have raised money for various causes. My husband is an avid motorcycle rider, so usually, we go to these events here and there so I've always seen the attraction and I wanted to bring something like that to Ferris."
Marcus S. Marion, @MarcusMarionWNI