Carter Center officials prepping for 23rd back-to-school giveaway

Published 12:28 am Thursday, June 22, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Officials at the Willie Carter Outreach Center are preparing for their largest event of the year — the 23rd annual back-to-school giveaway.

“We are fully moving forward with the plans, and it’s coming together,” said Johnny Hulin, executive director.

This year Hulin recruited the help of Emanuel Preston, a Port Arthur native with roots in community service.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“(Hulin) does a lot of heavy lifting and has his hands in all kinds of stuff,” Preston said. “I’m community based and I want to give back so I came with that skill set to help out.”

The event, planned for July 29, was held at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center until two years ago, when COVID forced a drive-through event at Barbara Jacket Park.

Hulin said this year they are awaiting word from a potential sponsor that could bring the event back to the Parker Center.

Either way, the Southeast Texas Food Bank will return with lunch packs for the children, and 1,500 backpacks full of supplies will be given away.

In addition, New Beginnings Ministries will be on hand to pass out socks and underwear as they’ve done in the past.

However, Hulin said, they are in need of donations.

“They are running low on donations for underwear and socks,” he said. “That’s been one of my major partners, and this year they’re really struggling to meet their quota.”

Hulin said the event is being made possible with the help of grants such as those given by Port Arthur LNG.

“Those guys have come in and been a different kind of corporate company,” Hulin said. “They came into a community and not so much told folks what they need to do but is a true partner by saying, ‘hey, tell us what you want to do and we’ll help fund it.’ They have been great since they first came in.”

Hulin and Preston ordered half of the necessary supplies Wednesday, with plans to fill the other half next week.

“Our role really has had an uptick here in the last two years,” Hulin said. “We’re hoping by the first of next week we’ll have everything in order to purchase the rest.”

The center will announce soon whether or not the event will return to the Parker Center. If it does not, it will continue at Jacket Park.

“We’ll have water and drinks out so people can stay hydrated,” Preston said.