Free backpacks part of Saturday back-to-school event at James Brown Arena

Stacks of backpacks, crisp and new, fill up most of Monique Braswell’s living room.

That’s much different from the scene last week, when 1,000 backpacks arrived at the home of the Richmond County Council of PTAs president damaged and moldy. The supply company, DollarDays.com, agreed to replace all the damaged items at no cost.

The backpacks will be given away at the council’s Community Wide PTA Kick Off at James Brown Arena on Saturday. The council will give away more than 2,500 bookbags and play host to about 40 vendors who will offer parents information and supplies.

“I think it lets parents know that while the economy is bad, there are people out there willing to make the burden out there as light as possible,” Braswell said.

Walmart will offer free vision screenings, and Rhema Connection will give away socks and underwear for kids, Braswell said.

PTAs from most elementary and middle schools will have booths where parents can get membership information or just learn how to get involved.

“PTA is about more than just volunteering at schools,” Braswell said. “A volunteer can stay home and do things over the computer, make phone calls or come to meetings. You’re lending your voice and advocating for a child.”

More than 30 PTA volunteers will prepare about 4,000 hot dogs, popcorn and drinks for the event. Motivational speaker Joseph Washington will lend advice on how to be better than average.

About 4,000 people attended the drive last year, and Braswell said she hopes for a larger showing Saturday.

Richmond County Council of PTAs events coordinator Monika Hall said preparation for the drive has been “24 hours around the clock.” She said members have been meeting with James Brown Arena staffers and making phone calls to the public to make sure as many people as possible take advantage of the event.

“A backpack is very expensive, and being able to help with that situation means a lot,” Hall said.

Hall said she hopes parents use the drive to get items needed for the school year but also to become more involved in their children’s education.

As a PTA member, Hall drives straight to Freedom Park Elementary School every day after working her day job to lend a hand where her three children attend school.

She said the payoff goes to her in addition to the kids.

“It’s not about fundraising; it’s about being there and supporting,” Hall said. “Kids seeing you in the school makes a difference.”

Backpacks for Augusta school giveaway sent with mold, other problems
IF YOU GO

WHAT: Community Wide PTA Kick Off

WHEN: 1-4 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: James Brown Arena

MORE INFO: Free event to kick off school year. The Richmond County Council of PTAs will be giving away more than 2,500 backpacks and some school supplies. Vendors will offer vision screenings, socks, underwear and other items. Parents can meet school board members and get involved in their school’s PTA. Children can also enjoy hot dogs, popcorn and inflatables.

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