GARLAND — With the start of a new school year a few weeks away, a group of volunteers helped children find the right backpack.
During Saturday’s back-to-school bash, about 200 bags were distributed at the ballpark complex thanks to the work of the Garland Community Action Group, sponsors and volunteers in the community. About 200 bags were distributed during the event, which also featured bouncy houses and meals. As a parent and volunteer, Patreece Herring expressed how the celebration helps students prepare for a new school year.
“They’re starting back on their education and getting what they need to learn, so they know what they want to do in their lives,” Herring said.
Volunteer and organizer Veronica Thomas was one of several organizers who helped students pick a bag.
“I would like to thank the Lord for a beautiful day,” Thomas said.
Jimmy Packer Jr., owner of Pacman’s Barbershop, thanked the community for the turnout, which exceeded his expectations.
“It was a success,” Packer said. “Everybody had fun.”
Along with the barbershop, the organization received sponsorship from D&R Auto Sales, Sister Sister Catering Service, Pelican’s SnoBalls, Mr. and Mrs. Ollie Robinson, Moore Bail Bondsman and Solomon’s Express Courier.
“I was glad to see the smiles on all the children’s faces,” said Connie Lee, a volunteer. “I think it’s so wonderful when the business owners are partnering with the town and making this what it is today.”
Saturday’s back-to-school celebration and backpack giveaway celebration is one of several events held each year. The volunteers are also preparing for the Trunk-or-Treat Halloween event and the Community Day celebration, which features a parade and vendors and other activities for visitors. During those events, the organization will accept registrations for the Toys for Tots program to help needy children. The last scheduled event of the year is the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rotary Park.
Mayor Winifred Murphy showed appreciation for the work of the volunteers and the businesses for showing support. She also assisted with sponsorship of the event.
“I think the young people and the parents are appreciative of all that they have done,” Murphy said. “This is a community coming together for the young people.”
Solomon’s awards scholarship
In memory of Solomon Hickmond, Solomon’s Express Courier awarded a scholarship to Roderick Boykin during the celebration on Saturday.
Boykin earned the $500 scholarship during the back-to-school celebration. The Union High School graduate is headed to East Carolina University. Boykin showed a lot of appreciation for the scholarship.
“I feel great about it,” Boykin said. “I knew Solomon for a little while and I just want to keep his memory alive through this scholarship. I really appreciate it.”
Hickmond passed away in a vehicle accident a few years ago and the business was created by his family in his honor, since he dreamed of having a trucking and transportation business. The check was presented by his brother, David Hickmond, on behalf of the Solomon Express Education Foundation.
“I wish Mr. Roderick the best in his education,” Hickmond said. “As far as my brother, I know this is something he would want to do. He was a cheerful giver.”
To be eligible, participants must reside in the Union District portion of Sampson County Schools. Hickmond added that the check presentation and scholarship is something he’ll smile about. After the presentation, several family members such as his grandmother Joyce Lewis-Miles, shared the same feelings.
“He loved kids,” said family member Cassandra Lewis-Liles.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.