Fair shows how much Suffolk truly CAREs

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 8, 2005

In the span of a few hours, visitors to the 10th annual Children’s Assistance and Resource Event (CARE) Fair Saturday afternoon at Mack Benn Elementary School got a full lesson in keeping their kids healthy and safe.

Suffolk Public School representatives signed students up for the fall term. Project Exile taught about safety in schools. The Suffolk Literacy Council helped kids learn about reading. Kids were given physical checkups, dental examinations, and, from the Suffolk Red Cross, identification packets. Known as &uot;Identikid,&uot; the booklets contained photos, addresses, physical descriptions and fingerprints.

&uot;This is important because if a child is missing, it’s one way of identifying them,&uot; said Cross representative Vera Bright. &uot;Sometimes people don’t have pictures of their children. This way, they have all the information.&uot;

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Booker T. Washington Elementary student Kris Steward was one youngster to get photographed and printed.

&uot;This is so if I do something wrong, they can find me,&uot; said the 9-year-old. &uot;But I’m not going to do anything wrong, because I don’t want to go to jail.&uot;

All in all, about 30 organizations were on hand to help the hundreds of visitors in the theme of &uot;Nurturing for the Future.&uot;

&uot;What we do is to bring a bunch of agencies together that are involved in health care,&uot; said Jeff Zeigler, the unofficial public relations person of the event. &uot;This is a one-stop thing; you can come here and take care of everything.&uot;

But the day wasn’t just about learning – schoolkids have another month before they head back into the education system, and they wanted to relish it. Face-painting, a petting zoo, pony rides and a karaoke machine were there for the enjoying.

Dynamic Movements, a local dance team, hit the stage outside the school for an exhibition of group and individual performing. Their first act was to, appropriately enough, the song, &uot;Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot,&uot; because that’s how the dancers felt in Saturday’s heat.

&uot;My hands were slippery for the partner work, and it was hard to hold on,&uot; said Christine Whitener. &uot;My hair kept sticking to my face, and I wanted so bad to reach up and touch it.&uot;

In the audience, Krista Rhodes, 5, couldn’t want for her turn onstage.

&uot;One of these days, I’m going to get up there and dance,&uot; she said. &uot;I can’t do it yet, but I’m a pretty good dancer.&uot;

Sponsors for C.A.R.E. Fair include the Early Childhood Development Commission, Suffolk Health Department, Suffolk Parks and Recreation, Suffolk Public Schools, Suffolk Department of Social Services, and the Children’s Center.