With school starting back in just a few weeks, free school supplies were handed out at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg Saturday.
The event, Pine Belt Countdown to Kindergarten rally, was hosted by the Excel by 5 Coalition.
Those in attendance received free backpacks, books and other supplies.
Parents were also able to register their kids in the Forrest and Lamar County School Districts.
Certification Manager Dan Kibodeaux said the main goal of Excel by 5 is to get children prepared to succeed when they reach kindergarten.
“Health, wellness, cognitive abilities, social and emotional readiness, we want those children ready to sit in the seat and learn and excel to the best of their abilities by the time they enter kindergarten,” Kibodeaux said.
Member Deborah Shelby Woullard said early childhood education is very important.
“We want to ensure that these kids are ready, we embrace them before they even come to school. We go to the hospital, we partner with USM, with William Carey College, even PRVO. It's very important,” Woullard said.