Free school supplies events set in St. James, St. John, St. Charles

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015

LAPLACE — With summer days winding down, school bells will soon be ringing all across the River Region as a new educational year takes off.

To make sure every child has the opportunity to enter the new school year with all the needed supplies, one St. John the Baptist Parish-based organization has planned a trio of school supply giveaways.

Blessed to be a Blessing — a non-profit organization established in 2001 by Reserve resident Eliza Eugene — will hold events in St. James, St. John and St. Charles Parishes to provide over 1,400 students with the essential equipment they need.

“I hope the parents in each community realize that we care and understand the struggles and expense of raising a family,” Eugene said. “I pray they consider it a blessing.”

Eugene said the events are made possible through private and public sponsorships and benefit families who won’t “have to choose between the grocery list or school supplies.”

“I hope the kids can experience excitement and confidence of knowing that they are ready for school,” she said. “When a child starts school without required supplies, it affects that child’s interactions with other kids and their teachers. I want every child to know that they are a product of a community that cares about each one of them.”

Eugene said the events started with a Blessed to be a Blessing and United Way St. Charles collaboration several years ago, where United Way was able to fund the St. Charles Parish event 100 percent through their partnership with industry.

“I wanted to have an event like this in St. John Parish, but knew I would need to take a different approach, because St. John United Way does not have the same budget as St. Charles Parish,” she said, adding she began soliciting public and private partnerships.

“I started with supplies for 300 kids and ran out within the first hour and a half.”

She said after Marathon saw an article about the event, company officials “stepped up to the plate the following year,” and now donate supplies that comprise 50 percent of the St. John Parish’s event budget.

Eugene said because of business partnerships, more children than ever are served through the offerings.

“Without sponsors, this would not be possible,” she said. “Many small businesses in the parish and companies that are doing business in St. John are asked to help.”

Annually held in St. John and St. Charles Parishes, Eugene said this is the first year there will be an event in St. James Parish.

After St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel and Pastor Ferdinand Gaines of First Community Antioch Baptist Church saw newspaper coverage of the St. John Parish event last year, Eugene said they contacted her and invited Blessed to be a Blessing to partner with them.

The St. James Parish event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at First Community Antioch Baptist Church, located at 10860 Highway 3125 in Lutcher. Free backpacks, school supplies and hygiene kits will be given to the first 300 children in attendance.

The event in St. John Parish will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 25 at Regala Gym, located at 194 Regala Park Road in Reserve. Free backpacks, school supplies and hygiene kits will be given to the first 500 children in attendance.

St. Charles Parish’s event will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 1 at Covenant Church, located at 173 Ormond Boulevard in Destrehan. The event will be held in the youth center, which is at the rear of the main building.

Eugene said free backpacks and school supplies will be available to the first 700 children in attendance.

Eugene said at all events a parent or guardian must be present with children for them to receive the supplies, and free food, health screenings and informational resources will also be available.

For more information or to donate to the give-a-ways, contact Blessed to be a Blessing at 985-359-9954.