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Back-to-school rally Saturday
0710 Back to school preview
Attendees at last years Project Reach G.A.N.G. Inc. Back to School Rally help themselves to snacks and school supplies. - photo by File photo

If you’re going
• What: Project Reach G.A.N.G. Inc. Back to School Rally
• When: 10 a.m. Saturday
• Where: Briar Bay Park in Riceboro

For Liberty County students, summer is coming to a close, which means it’s almost time to start shopping for school supplies and uniforms.
Project Reach G.A.N.G. Inc., a nonprofit community youth organization, plans to make that task a little easier with its annual Back to School Rally.
The rally, which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday in Riceboro’s Briar Bay Park, has been held in Liberty County for 15 years as a way to help youth and their families prepare for the upcoming school year. The event features several booths run mostly by local businesses, which serve as rally sponsors.
“This is not a fundraising event, and we do not charge for booth space. It’s free advertisement for businesses, but we do ask them to provide school supplies to give out to students,” Project Reach G.A.N.G. Inc. Executive Director Lavonia LeCounte said.
This year’s rally, held in honor of the late Ernie Walthour Sr., is expected to draw more than 1,500 attendees. Last year, 1,200 people attended the event. Other changes also are in the works.
“This year, we have several new spaces set up,” LeCounte said. “We’re expecting the new superintendent at the rally, along with new rides and about 35 booths set up.”
Though Project Reach G.A.N.G. Inc. is the main sponsor, the rally has several other supporters in the community, including SNF Chemtall, which has provided financial backing since the event’s inception.
The rally will start with a short ceremony conducted by guest speakers. After the program, students will be invited to go from booth to booth to collect free school supplies.
Bagged lunches will be served, and there will be plenty of entertainment, such as waterslides and hayrides.
Maj. Tony Jones of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will serve as a guest speaker, and students and their families will have an opportunity to meet the new Liberty County School System superintendent, Dr. Valya Lee, and other school system administrators.
LeCounte said Project Reach G.A.N.G. and the other coordinators and sponsors hope to bring businesses and people in Liberty County together while sending a message to young people that education opens the door to countless possibilities and opportunities.
“We have to capture their minds and instill in them that school is important, and it is a place for learning,” LeCounte said. “We go to school to gain knowledge in order to prepare us for a better life. Nothing in life is going to be given to you.”

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