Summer has just started, but some kids are already thinking about the first day of school this fall.
At a shopping mall south of Fort Worth, Tarrant County leaders helped to kick-off a registration drive to get poor families from 20 school districts free backpacks loaded with school supplies.
At La Gran Plaza, music and soccer players from the Fort Worth Vaqueros set the stage for Back to School Round-Up, an annual event that helps one in four Tarrant families who live in poverty. County judge Glen Whitley says it’s all about giving kids confidence.
“So much of getting someone out of poverty is centered around their education,” Whitley said. “What we’re trying to do here is to make that child feel successful when they go to school that first day.”
This means getting the word out now about registering before Aug. 6, when 10,000 goodie packs with $50 worth of supplies will be handed out at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth. Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks says this event is designed to say to children that the community supports them.
“We want you to have all the supplies,” Brooks said. “And haircuts, and everything that every other child has, so that the playing field is leveled, and every child can be ready to learn.”
He says the economy is recovering, but there are still pockets of poverty, and families need help.
“We expect that parents will bring their children,” Brooks said. “Grandparents will bring grandkids that they are raising. And there will be booths scattered throughout the hall that will give parents tips that will support the learning of their child.”
Fort Worth residents Elizabeth Sandoval and her husband Martin brought their three children to register. She says it’s hard when kids don’t have everything they need on the first day of class.
“They just feel left out,” she said. “It happened to me with my daughter, her first year. I had to wait to get her school supplies. ... I didn’t have the money, but with this, you will by the time they start school.”
Six-year-old Margarita remembers when she didn’t have pencils or pocket-folders. She describes how she felt that day.
“Sad, and unhappy.”
Not today. She and her brothers are getting free haircuts, health screenings, and not so long from now, a backpack with crayons, paper, and more.