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School supply events highlight weekend activities

The new school year is right around the corner and that means getting students equipped with the necessary school supplies for a successful school year. Thankfully, more than a few organizations are making that easier by hosting various Back to School Drives this Saturday.

Rhema Word Ministries, located in Port Arthur, is having their Back to School Drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug 13 at the Family Dollar on 2601 Memorial Blvd. It will be their first “big” school-themed donation, but one of several within their community.

“We always did something for Back to School, but mainly within the membership of the church,” said Back to School Outreach Coordinator, Benicia Vaughn. “This year we’re extending that out and helping the community.”

The drive was chiefly Vaughn’s idea, but she did talk with other members of Rhema Word to get both the support and blessing that such an event would require.

“Being a single mother, I know how hard it is when kids go back to school,” Vaughn said. “Kids can be hard on each other when they go back to school, especially when lacking supplies, uniforms… other kids struggle and so do their parents.”

The purpose of these charity events, in Vaughn’s words, is to “get kids prepared to go to school and get them in a positive frame of mind.

“The actual goal is to make sure that actual kids get what they need in school. The goal is to make sure that kids are ready to start school with a positive frame of mind.”

Vaughn would consider it “a blessing” if everybody would get as many people to go out as they could and make a difference in a student’s life.

Donations can be made by calling Vaughn (409-229-6713), emailing her (beniciavaughn@gmail.com), or making a donation through a Go Fund Me account (www.gofundme.com/RhemaB2SchoolDrive).

Supply donations can be dropped off at either Chick-fil-A on 8701 Memorial Blvd from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. until Saturday, or at the aforementioned Family Dollar on Saturday morning.

The Thomas Jefferson Essence Seniors Class of ’82 is hosting their Back to School Supplies Drive from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug 13 at Park Central Apartments on 8580 Park Central Blvd. It is for the residents of the apartment complex.

Richard Marcel, president of the TJ Essence Seniors of ’82, said that they wanted to give back to the less fortunate.

“We did Easter basket giveaways at Louis Manor Apartments. We’re just trying to pass [kind acts] around.”

When discussing his class’ reasons for participating in charitable events, Marcel was earnest.

“We’ve been out of school over 34 years, and we were one of those classes that were kind of non-existent… We just got back together in November. We’re stronger than ever now [and] we’ve been meeting up, doing different things to give back. The Easter baskets were our first event.”

For the upcoming School Drive, Marcel thanked Neighbors Emergency Center in Port Arthur for donating school supplies for the event. In addition, each active member of the ’82 class was asked to donate $20 of school supplies to the drive.

“You know how it is,” Marcel said. “Some give less, and then others give way more than asked.”

However, when it comes to the purpose of why they host the School Drive in the first place and what he hopes the kids get out of it, Marcel answered, “In my own words, it’s about putting smiles on their faces and putting smiles on their parents’ faces; so, there will be no burden that their [kid] will need supplies.”

Linda’s Lighthouse is hosting “A Day at Linda’s Lighthouse” School Supply Giveaway from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug 13 at 807 W 6th St. The event will be held outside (weather permitting) and will feature food, live music, wellness check-ups, giveaways, and games for kids including face paint and a bounce house.

“This is our first big event to say ‘Hello’ to the community,” said Amber Lucas, President and Executive Director of Linda’s Lighthouse. “For this, our goal is to help kids that come and maybe release some of the stress off their parents.”

Lucas, who started the nonprofit organization in March, asked herself, “What can I do to give back to the community and the youth?”

In response, the organization has made it its goal to reach out to the community and support them and provide opportunities, especially to its youth and elders.

According to Lucas, the Supply Giveaway is important to kids “because education is important and it’s a big part of their future.”

Chris Bates, Vice President of Linda’s Lighthouse, agreed that one needs “a balance to show that giving back is just as important as receiving. It’s good to receive, but it’s just an aspect of the greater whole.”

Bates emphasized that it’s important for Port Arthur graduates to come back and give back to the community, thereby helping the next generation grow up with the tools they need to succeed.

The Willie Carter Outreach Center and its Community Partners is hosting the 16th Annual Back to School Fair at 10 a.m. on Aug 13 at the Carl Parker Center on 1800 Lakeshore Dr.

The event is free to all PAISD students. Resource tables with information will be provided for parents, as well as free entertainment and food.