Minnesota Valley Action Council is offering a resource fair in St. Peter to help area residents get connected with needed services and opportunities in the community. (Photo courtesy of MVAC)

The St. Peter Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC) will host its annual community resource fair on Aug. 22 at the St. Peter Community Center gymnasium. This year marks the fourth year MVAC has hosted such an event and expects to see at least 300 attendees at this year’s fair.

The goal, according to Nicollet County Family Resource Coordinator Kayla Lavender, is to get the word out about new and existing resources in the St. Peter community. Many lower income or fixed income community members may not regularly have access to existing Mankato resources, so hosting such an event in the St. Peter area may give local residents much needed information related to help within Nicollet County and St. Peter.

This year’s fair promises to provide many returning community resources such as Adult Basic Education, Committee Against Domestic Abuse, Inc., Counseling Services of Southern Minnesota, Family First, MN, Habitat for Humanity, League of Women Voters MN, Minnesota River Valley Transit, Energy Assistance/MVAC, MN Council of Churches Refugee Services, PC’s for People, River’s Edge Hospital, Sioux Trails Mental Health Center, Southern Minnesota Legal Aid, and The REACH, as well as other local and surrounding area businesses.

“The resource fair began four years ago, during a monthly meeting of the homeless response team for our area,” said Vocational Resource Coordinator Jill Mason.

The nonprofit group wanted to offer resources and helpful information to residents in the St. Peter and Nicollet County area in a one-stop event, where area residents could access this information all at once. The response team decided that the event would be well attended by residents in need of such valuable information, while also in conjunction with the Back to School Backpack program, which is designed to provide back to school supplies to families who would otherwise may not have the capability or extra income needed for such items.

Area families who have applied for the back to school backpacks will be able to pick up their back to school supplies during the resource fair and also have the opportunity to connect with area resources and businesses at the community center.

“Last year, we offered ‘just the basics’ at the fair,” explained Mason. “Families who receive county SNAP food support, cannot purchase toiletry items, such as dish soap, and toilet paper with these funds.”

These, and other basic household items were donated by area businesses, and the donations for this year’s fair have more than doubled, according to Mason.

The St. Peter Police Department will also be in attendance at this year’s fair, not for protection’s sake, but as a friendly presence and to familiarize area residents with local law enforcement officers; bridging any cultural or diversified differences having to do with law enforcement in general.

This year, the fair will be offering cloth, reusable shopping bags to collect resource information and handouts. Capstone Publishers, of North Mankato, featuring educational children’s books and digital products, will have a large selection of books for children from preschool to sixth grade reading levels.

Reach Editor Philip Weyhe at 507-931-8567 or follow him on Twitter @EditorPhilipWeyhe.

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