Hundreds of local children and families are now stocked up on school supplies and community resources following Saturday’s CARE Fair which took place at Airport Park.

The 18th annual event was made possible thanks to Freeport McMoran, Making Connections/DBA Cochise Connections, Christian Life Center, The Douglas Dispatch, and other local businesses.

The CARE (which stands for Children’s, Assistance, Resource Event) Fair was initially started by the late Carol Huddleston, who founded the idea of bringing the community together during a day of free school supplies, activities, and family wellness.

Saturday’s event featured the ever-popular pony rides from DMD Hearts & Hooves out of Portal.

“Freeport McMoRan is one of the major sponsors of our back to school event not only here in Douglas, but also Bisbee,” said Adriana Romero of Cochise Connections. “This year they donated 400 backpacks for this event that were handed out within an hour.”

Various participating agencies provided school supplies to go inside the backpacks and there were give-a-ways throughout the event to those that attended.

“We had a huge turnout today,” Romero said after the fair was over. “We had great cooperation from all the organizations. I really do appreciate The Douglas Dispatch for helping us out with this event. I think one important thing we saw today was how much the community comes together to host this event in a way to give back to the kids and the families. We want to make this an enjoyable event for all the families.”

JCPenney was a first-time participant this year. Manager Fernanda Hernandez said she found out about the event through the Dispatch’s Facebook page. Her store was able to set up a table and distribute school supplies. She said afterwards she was happy her store was able to take part in this event. JCPenney also donated two $50 gift cards that were given away during the fair.

Participating businesses this year were: Making Connections 4U/DBA Cochise Connections, Freeport McMoRan, Christian Life Center, The Douglas Dispatch, Tucson Medical Center (TMC), DJ Legacy, Douglas Police Department, Community Health Associates, U.S. Census Bureau, Caring Connections For Special Needs, Easter seals Blake Foundation, Consulado de Mexico, City of Douglas (Recreation Division), Douglas Public Library, Copper Queen Community Hospital, Cochise County, Board of Supervisor Campaign, DES Rehabilitation Services Administration, JCPenney, SEABHS, Arizona@Work/Employment Services & Voc Rehab, Wells Fargo Bank, CSL Plasma, Pioneer Title Agency, Douglas Area Food Bank and the DUSD #27 Migrant Education Program, DMD Hearts & Hooves, and Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc.