Back-to-school giveaways, also a celebration

A foundation hosts 'Backpack Bash' at Benson Park
Posted at 12:22 PM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 13:22:06-04

School is right around the corner and the season for back-to-school shopping is in motion.

The cost of school supplies can add up for families, as a consumer report reveals parents spend roughly $900 during the annual shopping season.

But one woman in the metro hopes to remove the financial burden from families, while turning a backpack giveaway into a celebration.

Althea Jones says she hopes all 250 packs will go home to a child before the new school year starts.

“The thing is yes, I'm giving out the backpacks but know that I am serious about education,” Jones says.

Her seriousness resulted in the creation of the first annual Backpack Bash at Benson Park this Saturday.

Jones is part of the Prince Hall Education Foundation, comprised of members from Prince Hall Masons and the Order of the Eastern Star.

 Right now, a team is stuffing hundreds of packs with supplies.

 In addition to the supplies, the event will feature food, golf and fishing lessons and other family-fun activities, according to organizers.

After months of planning, this labor of love is worth it for the foundation, members say.

 “I'm hoping that the kids walk away with, 'Hey, education might not be that bad. Maybe I should stay in school.  Or maybe I should turn my focus on something different,’” Jones says. “Because it's hard out there on the streets.”

Without education, we are undoubtedly going to be in pretty bad shape, says Johnny Cummings, vice-chairman of the foundation’s board of directors.

“If we don't take the time to ensure that our youth are involved in getting a good education –  we're going to be left behind when it comes to jobs of the future,” Cummings says.

Countless donations from Charles Drew Medical Center, Bland and Associates and masonic organizations made the bash possible and fun, Jones says.

“You can have fun and go to school and do everything and become the next president. So my goal is to let them they can be anything that they want to be,” Jones says.

The Backpack Bash is Saturday, July 30 from noon to 3 p.m. at Benson Park.