With all the coronavirus-related uncertainty surrounding the upcoming school year, one thing is certain – 700 students from St. Charles Parish will have the school supplies they need to kick off a successful academic year.
The United Way of St. Charles – in conjunction with Eliza Eugene of Blessed to be a Blessing, A Safe Space, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Charles Parish Government, St. Charles Parish industry leaders and the St. Charles Parish School Board – will host the socially-distant backpack give-a-way on August 1 at the Dr. Rodney R. Lafon Performing Arts Center, located at 275 Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway in Luling.
“During this time, when COVID is the first topic on everyone’s mind, something we worry about are all the other needs that still remain,” John Dias, executive director of United Way of St. Charles, said. “Many, many kids still need basic school supplies. I’m glad we have been able to continue events like the school supply distribution because the needs continue.”
The event will kick-off at 9 a.m. and close at noon, or until the 700 bags have been given out. No prior registration is required, but organizers emphasized that the give-a-way is for St. Charles Parish residents only and that children must be present in the car to receive a backpack.
“The event is very important to our community because we are providing 700 students with tools for school,” Eugene said. “When a child is properly positioned to excel in school, that child is unlikely to enter into the juvenile justice system. Growing up in public housing with a single mother and becoming a teenage mother, I personally understand the importance of events like this. It is very expensive to be poor.”
The average cost for school supplies is $200 per child, Eugene said, emphasizing the challenge that presents to many parents.
“The United Way is bridging that financial gap for many families in St. Charles Parish,” Eugene said. “With the current pandemic, unemployment at an all-time high and so may uncertainties, the need is greater now than ever before. It is our desire to let seven hundred families in our community know that they are not alone and we care.”
Eugene said each backpack include pencils, pens, tablets, a flash drive, pockets folders, hand sanitizer, composition notebooks and a calculator. Participants will also receive a meal from Subway, along with a hygiene kit comprised of a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, towel, comb, brush, roll-on antiperspirant and lotion.
“Many kids and volunteers look forward to this event every year,” Eugene said. “All is not lost. United Way is still here making a difference.”
For more information contact Ivy Williams at 504-308-0819, Eliza Eugene at 504-451-4712 or Roanne Sampson at 985-308-1700.