United Way of NWLA host school supply drive for Red River Parish

Updated: May. 31, 2018 at 7:42 PM CDT
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RED RIVER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - School's out for the summer but United Way representatives say now is the time to start preparing for the next school year. They are holding a summer school supply drive to help the students of Red River Parish start off on an even playing field.

United Way is asking businesses to host a drive and have their employees collect a specific item like paper or pencils.

The current businesses signed up to host drives include:

  • Sam’s Town Shreveport
  • The Arc Caddo-Bossier
  • Providence House
  • Red River Fedreal Credit Union
  • Argent Financial Group
  • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Beta Epsilon Zeta Chapter

All of the supplies will be collected and stuffed into backpacks for the "Back to School Bash" later this summer.

"In getting ready for school there's a lot of anxiety, not just on the parent's end but also on the child's end too. Because they're worried about whether or not they're going to have everything they need. And this way we can alleviate that and make sure that they are prepared," said United Way Community Engagement Coordinator Jennifer Horton.

She says students in Red River are already starting behind, so this drive is to help level the playing field. The goal is to make sure every student shows up on the first day with everything they need to succeed.

Last year the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority held it's regional conference in the area and partnered with United Way to give them school supplies. This year, United Way is getting help from the community to collect supplies.

"It helps our families and our students do not have any worries when they walk in school on the first day," said Red River Parish Schools Superintendent Alison Hughes.

Horton says they are doing this for Red River Parish because the rural communities typically go untouched.

"It's where they're located, it's lack of available resourced. And it's our duty at United Way to serve those parishes just like we serve anywhere else. Just like we serve the larger parishes."

Something the superintendent agreed with.

"Being in a small parish, this is not something that we have the capability of doing on our own," said Hughes. "The partnership that we have with them is so important to kicking off the year with a bang for our kids."

Hughes says local businesses come together to help with the event. local barbers and stylist give haircuts, dentists donate hygiene kits with toothbrushes and toothpaste and they hand out donated school uniforms.

"It takes the pressure off of our families of worrying how they're going to have the finances to buy all the things that their children need because we're asking so much for kids. These supply lists get longer and longer with the things that they need to be successful in these classes as our curriculum gets harder and tougher."

The first year they planned for about 300, but more than 1,500 came. Hughes says it was one of the biggest events to come to Red River Parish.

Organizers hope that the event will be bigger and better this year. It will be held on July 30 at the senior and junior high gyms.

Anyone interested in signing up to host a drive or sponsoring a set of supplies can contact Horton at 318-677-2504.

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