With only two last-hurrah Saturdays to go before Rock Hill children stuff their backpacks and shuffle off to school, parents and community organizations want to make sure the kids are prepared.
Two back-to-school events in Rock Hill had different missions, but the goal was to take care of the kids – inside and outside the classroom.
At the Back2School Block Party at the Rock Hill Galleria, the focus was giving parents information about community resources while the kids enjoyed some play time before hitting the books.
They danced to “Uptown Funk,” hula-hooped with their parents, took silly pictures at a photo stand, watched the “Sugary Drink Challenge,” and hoped they would win the ultimate door prize – a new Fitbit or some play time at the Revolutions bowling alley and arcade.
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“The idea is to get a lot of families out in one location so that we can share educational information about making healthy choices in school: good nutrition, fitness, avoiding tobacco, alcohol and drug use, because we know that heart disease begins in childhood,” said Sheila Caldwell, founder of the Heart2Heart Foundation, an organization that raises awareness about heart disease in women.
Heart2Heart teamed up with the Rock Hill School District and the Rock Hill Galleria to sponsor the event and invited more than 30 agencies to set up booths.
On hand at both events were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Eta Alpha Omega Chapter, whose goal was to provide students with backpacks and other school supplies. At the Back2School Block Party, the organization handed out 100 free book bags.
Across town at the Walmart in Newport, more members of the group collected paper, notebooks, pencils, crayons, glue sticks and backpacks at the “Stuff the Bus” school supplies drive. The event is part of the sorority’s national “One Million Backpacks” initiative.
Parked in front of the store was a large school bus to hold the donations, which were packed neatly in boxes lining every seat.
The sorority will donate the supplies to the Rock Hill School District, which will hand them over to children in need, said Serena Williams, coordinator of community service for the district.
“Back-to-school time is very expensive for many families, so school supply drives are very important in our community,” Williams said, adding that the district makes sure the schools have resources and staff that “have a pulse on our most needy populations.”