Families lined up six feet apart on Saturday to receive school supplies for their children ahead of the first day of school. Volunteers Frederick’s March for Justice, Soul Street and I Believe in Me all worked together to fill bags fitting each family’s needs.
Akiyyah Billups of Frederick’s March for Justice said she is well aware of the needs that come with a new school year, even a virtual one. Most of the members of her organization are in high school or college.
“We understand the anxieties, the stress, the unknown, financial disparities with the unprecedented time that we’re in, and we wanted to give back,” Billups said.
I Believe in Me gave out food to anyone who wanted it, as they have for the last 22 weeks. Billups said it made sense to give the option of food to families who are picking up school supplies, since lunch is often provided by schools.
With schools closed, parents who might receive reduced or free lunches now have another meal they need to provide for their children.
“I know I’ve volunteered at I Believe in Me and I just know the amount of food it requires to sustain breakfast, lunch, dinner while kids are at home,” she said.
The groups prepared to serve between 100 and 150 students, which was spread out among about 70 families. In addition to the bags they handed out, Billups said families could register with any additional assistances they need.
These requests could include Chromebooks, tablets, tutoring or a desk. The group is using the donations they have received since their first event in June to cover the expenses of these essentials.
“So this is a way for us to give back to a community that rallied together and supported us unconditionally,” Billups said.
Volunteer Tarolyn Thrasher, a friend of Billups, is passionate about providing for the community. So much so that she says she is running for state delegate of District 3A in 2022.
The event was a great way to give back to the community she has loved living in for the last eight years.
“This is about them, the people,” Thrasher said. “And when we make it about the people, we get so much done.”
Shana Knight, co-founder of Soul Street, said the event felt very welcoming.
“I think it’s beautiful,” she said. “Honestly the energy is amazing, if I were in need I’d feel very comfortable coming out here, I wouldn’t feel too prideful. It’s just a very welcoming environment.”