Backpack Extravaganza returns July 16

Published 3:24 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2022

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LAPLACE — Free mesh backpacks, school supplies and hygiene kits are being given to the first 1,000 children attending Blessed to Be a Blessing’s 2022 Backpack Extravaganza.

The drive-thru event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end when all supplies are gone on Saturday, July 16 at the St. John Community Center, located at 2900 Highway 51 in LaPlace.

Children must be present in the vehicle with a parent or guardian to receive supplies.

Children will also receive a healthy Subway meal courtesy of Raj Pannu Enterprises and the St. John Parish School Board.

The first 200 vehicles in line will receive a $25 Walmart gift card, limit one card per car.

Blessed to Be a Blessing founder Eliza Eugene is thankful for the community partnerships that make this annual event possible.

“Our goal is to continue to impact the community with our initiatives. This is still a very trying time for many families who still haven’t rebuilt (from Hurricane Ida). With the economy the way it is, the struggle is real. We want to continue to do our part by giving back,” Eugene said. “I believe to whom much is given, much is required. When you do that with the right spirit, when you do it with love and joy, it is well-received and the community can appreciate it.”

Blessed to Be a Blessing has partnered with Louisiana State Police, University Medical Center New Orleans and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to offer free child car seat safety tips and installation during the Backpack Extravaganza.

According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, research shows that child safety seats reduce fatal injury by 71% for infants under 1 and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4. Motor vehicle crashes have also been cited as the leading cause of death for children.

“We have about 30 trained technicians and first responders from all across the state of Louisiana that come out to this event. Last year, we were able to assist 80 families with car seats,” Eugene said.

Blessed to Be a Blessing has also partnered with the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity to host a blood drive during the Backpack Extravaganza.

Cargill, Marathon and Nalco Water are the top industry leaders supporting the event, along with St. John United Way.

Other sponsors include St. Joan the Baptist Parish/Parish Council, the Rotary Club of LaPlace, the St. John Sheriff’s Office, the St. John District Attorney’s Office, the River Region Chamber of Commerce, the St. John Parish Assessor’s Office, Entergy, GRACE, Louisiana Federal Credit Union, Raising Cane’s, State Representative Randal Gaines, Total Choice Federal Credit Union and T-Mobile.

During the event, the St. John Health and Human Services Department will distribute additional information regarding services available to residents.

“Not only do we want to give kids all of the necessary tools for school; we want to give parents awareness of what resources are available for them here in St. John the Baptist Parish,” Eugene said.

For more information about the Backpack Extravaganza, call Eugene at 504-451-4712.