More than 1,000 backpacks given away as part of Warner Robins Back-to-School Bash

efarlow@macon.comJuly 19, 2013 

More than 1,000 backpacks given away as part of WR Back-to-School Bash

WARNER ROBINS -- More than 1,000 backpacks sat on tables at the Cam Campbell Homes on South Davis Drive in Warner Robins shortly before 9 a.m. Friday. A line of children and their families about one block long waited to receive the free backpacks as part of the fourth annual Back-to-School Bash.

Jordan Hooks, 12, and his brother, Reese, 11, both chose plain, black backpacks from piles that included superhero and Hello Kitty bags.

“At least we don’t have to pay for the book bags,” said Reese. “Book bags are expensive.”

By 10 a.m., all the backpacks were gone, and only a few folders remained.

The Warner Robins Housing Authority and Houston County Habitat for Humanity partnered up to organize the bash to benefit children in need of school supplies.

Kneleta Bert, a student at Fort Valley State University who is interning with Habitat for Humanity, said preparation for the bash included recruiting sponsors, donations, grant money and volunteers.

Bert said the event is important because it provides school supplies to families who otherwise could not afford them.

Jordan and Reese also had tickets for a free haircut from Central Georgia Technical College students. When it was their turn, they walked into the haircutting room.

About a dozen students came to the bash to offer free haircuts, said Leon Towles, who teaches barbering at Central Georgia Tech.

Towles said the bash was “a good event,” because it benefits the community and gives Central Georgia Tech students experience.

Games, face painting and free food also were available.

“We have a lot of support,” said Sheryl Frazier, executive director of the Warner Robins Housing Authority. “We got a lot of support from Wal-Mart,” who sold the backpacks to the housing authority at discounted prices.

The housing authority held fundraisers for the bash this year and raised about $9,000. That amount included a $2,000 donation from the city of Warner Robins, Frazier said.

Some of the businesses and organizations that had tables and booths included Houston Healthcare, the NAACP and Chik-fil-A. Representatives from the U.S. Air Force volunteered at the event.

Frazier started the bash four years ago because she saw a need in the community.

“Some people would say that (the Back-to-School Bash) may not be needed. I believe it is,” said Frazier. “When you have to choose between school supplies for your child or paying a bill, that’s critical.”

Sharon Rogers, program coordinator for the housing authority, said the bash was a success.

“We look forward to doing it next year,” she said.

But some families came late, walking through the gate after all the backpacks were gone.

“That’s the sad part, when you run out,” said Frazier as she watched a family walk up to the empty table in front of her. “I wish I had more book bags left.”

To contact writer Emily Farlow, call 744-4225.

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