Hundreds of students and their families could be seen at the third annual Red River Public Schools Back to School Bash hosted by United Way of Northwest Louisiana. This event is the only in the parish to distribute free school supplies. According to the Latest ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) Study of Financial Hardship, 49 percent of Red River Parish residents are struggling to afford basic needs. The annual Back to School Bash is one way UWNWLA is interfering to fight and reverse this statistic.
This year, UWNWLA worked with the school district and area sponsors to fundraise for the supplies. While UWNWLA offered a majority of the support, dozens of teachers and faculty with the school district participated in a workplace campaign to pledge their own dollars toward the cause. The collective community partnerships resulted in enough school supplies purchased for each K-12 student to walk away with a complete set of school supplies and a new, sturdy backpack to hold it in.
Registration numbers from the July 29 event show nearly half of the students enrolled with the school district attended. Rooms across two campuses were used to move walking traffic along smoothly. The arrangement included elementary registration in the cafeteria, junior and high school registration in the library, uniform pickup, free haircuts and community vendors in the junior high gym and the supply giveaway plus a station for blood donations in the high school gym.
“This year the event had off and on rain which may have kept some families home but there was still a significant turnout for those who were present. For that many families to show despite the rain, shows how supportive and important this event is to the local community,” said Jennifer Horton, VP of Community Impact with UWNWLA.
“We understand the need for resources in Red River Parish and United Way of Northwest Louisiana is committed to supporting the educational development through the Back to School Bash and our Imagination Library program. It’s a great feeling to know we can provide these vital services here,” said Bruce Willson, President/CEO of UWNWLA.
This report was prepared by United Way of Northwest Louisiana.