WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)— Families are gearing up to send their kids back to school, and on Friday evening, a special event was held in Luzerne County to help make the process easier for them.

Classes will soon be in session in schools across our area. As families navigate this busy time, some non-profits in our region teamed up to empower and educate our community.

“I love school. School is the best thing in the whole entire world!” Natalie Barber exclaimed.

Kids like 9-year-old Natalie Barber filled bags with free school supplies at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre.

Dozens of families came out to the inaugural back-to-school bash and resource fair hosted by Volunteers of America.

“It’s about connecting families who may be in need with local resources that would benefit them and their children, but also providing some back-to-school supplies. We know that times are hard and we want to help the kids however we could,” said Crystal Kotlowski, the director of NEPA Volunteers of America.

Help that came in the form of a fun event included face painting, music, and snacks.

It’s a small gesture that goes a long way, especially for families whose budgets are strained by rising costs.

“No matter where you look it’s expensive, no matter where you look. I mean, even shopping at Walmart anymore is the same way. They get crayons, pencils, stuff like that, and it helps. Everything helps,” said Susan Jones.

“We see such a need with inflation, everything rising. We’re seeing all kinds of new people in our food bank everyday, since the beginning of the year our food bank usage has increased 80%,” Kotlowski told Eyewitness News.

But it wasn’t just about the giveaways. Representatives from six local non-profits joined forces to inform parents about resources available to them year-round.

“Abuse, domestic violence information that would help you if you were in any of those situations,” explained Tanya Quare.

“A lot of times people just aren’t aware that something is available in the community that can really make a difference in their lives,” said Kotlowski.

The Volunteers of America Organization intends to host this event annually. For a full list of non-profits who attended and the services they offer, head to the