Thursday, July 30, 2015
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – The 2015 Backpack Extravaganza, spearheaded by Eliza Eugene with Blessed to be a Blessing and Marathon Petroleum as the title sponsor and assistance from Parish President Natalie Robottom, the Parish Council, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and various other elected officials and agencies, was the largest since its inception. More than 500 parish students attended the annual event held at REGALA Gym in Reserve on Saturday, July 25 in preparation for the upcoming school year.
The goal of the backpack giveaway is to help alleviate the financial burden on parents in obtaining basic school supplies and necessities to prepare their children for the start of school. Through donations and multi-agency coordination, backpacks and school supplies, including pencils, pens, highlighters, erasers and sharpeners were dispersed to attendees. Hygiene kits were also distributed. “I understand the struggles that parents face in trying to meet the needs of their children, and the minimum incomes that these families have to work with to meet these needs,” said Eugene. “This event allows parents to divert some of the finances that they would have to spend on basic school supplies and backpacks and use it to meet other needs, such as school uniforms and other necessities of life.”
In addition to school supplies, free food and prizes, health aides and exercise materials, as well as back to school information were provided by representatives from St. John Health and Human Services, St. John School Board, St. John Parish Health Unit, St. John Parks & Recreation, St. John United Way and others from throughout the Parish and region. Attendees were also treated to face painting, snowballs, games and educational activities. "This event continues to be a growing success every year,” said Council Chairman Michael Wright. “We continuously talk about raising the bar and this year we broke the thermometer. This year’s event was a result of a collaborative effort and teamwork."
Blessed to be a Blessing, Parish President Robottom and the Council presented retired educator and St. John pioneer Betty Clement with a proclamation for her efforts in ensuring Parish students were well equipped with school supplies for many years. Later that day, officials traveled to Edgard to participate in the West St. John Fair and President Robottom presented renowned educator Dr. Henry Yale Harris with a proclamation for his social activism. Students in Edgard were also treated to free school supplies through Blessed to be Blessing. “Back to school events help equip our children with the tools necessary to learn, grow and succeed in the classroom,” said Parish President Robottom. “It’s great to see everyone uniting for such a worthy cause and the children’s faces were heartwarming.”
For a full list of supporters/donors to the Back to School Giveaway, please view here.