St. Charles Parish and United Way of St. Charles are once again combining to help make sure parish youth have the school supplies necessary for the upcoming year via their annual Youth Rally/Backpack giveaway event.
It is set for July 31, from 9 a.m. to noon, or until all items are gone, at the Lafon Performing Arts Center in Luling. Like last year, the giveaway will be drive-through only, in order to respect social distancing measures. Children must be St. Charles Parish residents and must be present in the vehicle to receive a backpack, which will be filled with school supplies.
Each backpack contains pencils, pens, notebooks, a flash drive, folders, hand sanitizer, composition notebooks and a calculator. Supplies may vary by age group. In addition, children will receive a meal from Subway and a hygiene kit.
There are 700 backpacks given away each year at the rally.
Kacy Kernan, United Way of St. Charles Director of Community Impact, said the dedication to the event even through the pandemic of the past year-plus is because the cause is an important one. She noted the average cost of school supplies for a given child in 2021 is close to $200, making this time of year a challenging one for many parents.
“Many years ago, it was our goal to create an event where families who needed the help could come out, learn about community resources, and get a kick start on the supplies they need for school,” Kernan said, also noting that over the years the event has blossomed into a partnership with organizations including Blessed to be a Blessing, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Charles Parish Public Schools, the St. Charles Parish Dept. of Community Services and A Safe Space of St. Charles.
While in the past, the event represented an outdoor get-together for the assembled students with activities beyond the giveaway, the move to a drive-through event was unavoidable in the current climate.
“While it is our preference to have an in-person event where the community comes together, we did the drive through event last year out of necessity and it worked really well,” Kernan said. “During the initial planning, we didn’t know what July would look like so we opted to do the drive through event again. While it is unconventional, it still allows the families who need help to get it.”
Making sure that help is granted is the bottom line, as it can make all the difference in whether a child can maximize the education they’re to receive in the coming year.
“We are happy to be able to continue this event year after year. We believe that education is the key to lifelong success and the goal of this event is to set as many children as possible up for that success,” Kernan said.
For more information on the rally, one may call Eliza Eugene at (504) 451-4712 or Roanne Sampson at (985) 308-1700.