|Bro. Orlando McDowell addresses the crowd|
For the youth in the Kentland community, the community center was the place to be on this Saturday morning, and yet, there were no entertainers or athletes anywhere to be found. So what accounted for all the energy and the buzz? It was all about Back-To-School and the backpack and school supplies giveaway coordinated by Gamma Pi chapter's Social Action Committee along with Sisters4Sisters,Inc., just in time for the start of school this upcoming week.
|The Ques from Gamma Pi after a hard day's work|
The community center was a beehive of activity as more than 200 children and parents came through to get free backpacks and accompanying supplies -- from pencils and pens to composition books, portfolios, folders, glue sticks, crayons and more. It was much needed in Kentland, a community facing stiff socio-economic challenges that often leave children behind educationally and socially. The Kentland center is the site of Gamma Pi's monthly Que Kidz Dayz enrichment program for underprivileged youth in the area. About 40 Gamma Pi Brothers participated in the event.
"The majority of our back pack recipients are from poor families who cannot afford the required clothes, shoes, or basic supplies for the new school year. Many are too ashamed and embarrassed to go to school and if they do attend classes, they don’t have the tools to learn," said Sisters4Sisters in a statement prior to the event. Sisters4Sisters, Inc. donates back packs to underserved children in poverty along with those whose lives have been impacted by HIV-AIDS and those residing in those in area domestic violence safe houses and homeless shelters. The president, Carolyn White-Washington, added at the close of the backpack drive::"Sisters4Sisters is happy to partner with the Brothers of Omega Psi Phi as well as Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. These organizations are really coming together to change the community."Today's event was about much more than just backpacks and school supplies. It was an opportunity for the community to gain knowledge on some other related "you-need-to-know" issues. For example, the students heard about the importance of setting and achieving academic and other goals for themselves as they progress in school.
Educating the Community
|Bro. Sgt. Boone talks hoops with student|
The youth also heard from three Gamma Pi chapter members who serve in law enforcement agencies in Prince George's County and Washington.D.C. In light of the recent Ferguson, Mo incident, the officers used the opportunity to talk with the youth about their jobs protecting the community and why the youth should not fear the police, who are there to help.
|Students in a long line to pick up supplies|
The backpack giveaway also included a pizza party, mini carnival with popcorn, cotton candy, face painting and a mini-parent workshop.
The success of the program at Kentland on Saturday was the culmination of several years of Gamma Pi investing in and building strong relationships with the community through its QueKidzDayz program. A number of the youth picking up backpacks were from the program and were familiar with the Brothers and their work in the area over the years.
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|Officers Chatmon, Akouko and Boone|