“Wow!” exclaimed School Superintendent Alison Hughes, “We never expected the turnout. We’re so appreciative of the community coming together to support it.” Hughes overlooked an overflowing crowd of parish residents filling the Red River High Gym on Monday afternoon.
The occasion was the first Back To School Bash held for public school students and parents in the parish. It was a one-stop event that supplied students with uniforms, backpacks packed with school supplies, free hot dogs and haircuts, and a big bounce castle. The line formed early at the gym doors and stretched all the way behind the high school building.
United Way gave 1,500 backpacks full of needed supplies to students attending Red River public schools. Their summary of the event said, “The Bash is he largest program that offers school supplies to students in the parish. According to the ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) Study of Financial Hardship, 40 percent of that population (the parish) is struggling to afford basic needs. The annual Back to School Bash is helping to fight and reverse this statistic.”
Jennifer Martin, Vice President of Resource Development at UWNWLA, “Of all ten parishes United Way serves, research has shown that Red River Parish has the highest need for these resources.”
Superintendent Hughes said, “Over 1,500 people signed in to participate. I want to thank our corporate sponsors like the Bank of Coushatta and Nichols: Rivertown Market supplied the food and the sheriff brought his grill and did the cooking; and local barbers and beauticians came to give the kids free haircuts. There were many businesses and individuals who joined in and made this possible. And thanks to the United Way for bringing it all together.”
As for the future, the Journal asked Hughes if they would do it again. She said, “Yes, and next year will be bigger and better!”
Photos featured with this article cannot fully capture the size of the crowd at the first Red River Parish Back to School Bash. There were long lines to get into the gym and long lines to take advantage of complimentary backpacks, school supplies, free haircuts, and the hot dogs. There was even a line waiting to get into the bounce castle. The Journal did capture the new High School Principal, J C Dickey directing traffic. Thanks to United Way for contributing photos and details to this report.