500+ receive school supplies

Published 12:07 am Saturday, August 1, 2015

RESERVE — 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, July 25 at REGALA Gym in Reserve.

The goal of the backpack giveaway is to help alleviate the financial burden on parents in obtaining basic school supplies and necessities to prepare 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,” Eugene said. “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 region.

Attendees were also treated to face painting, snowballs, games and educational activities.

“This event continues to be a growing success every year,” Council Chairman Michael Wright said. “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, Robottom and Council members 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.