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Second annual Back-to-School event to give free school supplies to first 500 students

Last year’s Back-to-School Celebration distributed free school supplies to 300 Riverbend region students. This year’s event will distribute free school supplies to 500 students. (Photo courtesy OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center)


Event to be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5 at Alton Square Mall

Thanks to the tremendous success of last year’s inaugural event, OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center will host their 2nd annual Back-to-School Celebration from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5. Due to scheduled parking lot construction at the hospital, this year’s event will be held at Alton Square Mall on the upper level.

This year’s Back-to-School Celebration, sponsored exclusively by Dwight and Cheryl Werts, and Werts Welding & Tank Service, Inc., will distribute school supplies including (but not limited to) paper, pens, pencils, and crayons to the first 500 kids ages 4 to 12 – last year’s event provided school supplies to 300 students.

Admission is FREE and the event is open to the public. A hot dog lunch complete with chips, cookies, and bottled water will be available while supplies last.

“Last year’s Back-to-School Celebration was an overwhelming success, so we wanted to make this year’s event bigger by providing free school supplies to the first 500 students,” says Jerry Rumph, president, OSF Saint Anthony’s. “Plus, we’ll have more vendors this year, along with prize and gift basket raffles, and fun games and interactive activities provided by OSF Mission Partners (employees) to educate attendees on a variety of health care topics and services.”

So far, a cumulative group totaling more than 22 that encompasses local dignitaries, businesses, service agencies and organizations have pledged their involvement.

Local dignitaries that will be attending include:

  • City of Alton Mayor David Goins
  • Illinois State Representative Amy Elik (R), 111th District (Alton)
  • Illinois State Senator Erica Harriss (R), 56th District (Edwardsville)

The following confirmed entities will be on-site (displays, interactive activities, informational, etc.):

  • Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation will be conducting back-to-school physicals
  • Madison County Sherriff Department (displaying a squad car and its tactical response vehicle)
  • Alton Fire Department (displaying a fire truck)
  • Alton Police Department
  • UPS (delivery truck on display)
  • SSM Health Cardinal Glennon (MICU transport vehicle on display)
  • Illinois Central School Bus (a school bus will be on display)
  • OSF OnCall
  • OSF Medical Group
  • Lewis & Clark Community College Dental Hygiene program
  • NCG Cinema (Alton Square Mall)
  • Jacoby Arts Center
  • Halpin Music
  • Slackers (Alton Square Mall; comic books, pens, and a $50.00 gift card raffle)
  • Hayner Library
  • OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center (various departments)

The following businesses, agencies, and organizations have generously donated giveaways, materials and additional resources to make the event a success:

  • Maurices (Alton Square Mall; collecting and donating school supplies)
  • Santino’s Restaurant (gift card donation)
  • Twelve Counties Southwestern Illinois Laborers District Council (donated multiple giveaway items)

And just like last year’s inaugural event, the overall objective of OSF Saint Anthony’s Back-to-School Celebration is to bring community resources together to support Riverbend region students and families. “All of the benefactors and partners that have joined us in this event have a vested interest in the success of local students and schools,” says Rumph. “We want this event to be an annual occurrence that everyone looks forward to participating and attending.”

Questions and requests for additional information can be addressed via email at

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