The backpack, especially for K through 12th graders, is more than just a form of apparel expression, it’s an essential tool for getting through nine months of intensive learning and fast-paced growth, it’s an essential tool for educational success. Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to buy one, let alone the school supplies that are supposed to fill them.

Two backpack and school supply give aways have generously graced young Long Beach students with a better chance at doing well in school. One is this weekend, where over 1,000 kids will be offered the necessary supplies for a productive life in the classroom.

Mayor Robert Garcia and Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews, along with local nonprofits What’s next Now.Org and New Life Beginnings, gave away 1,200 backpacks filled with school supplies at the 6th District Back to School Fair, this past Saturday, August 9, at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, according to a press release.

“There are a lot of families that are barely getting by in our city,” Andrews said in a statement. “The extra cost of purchasing school supplies can cause financial hardships. This event helped relieve some of the burden… The back-to-school event provided students with the supplies they need to succeed in school.”

According to the release, this is the second year the Councilman has hosted the fair, attracting over 1,000 attendees, seeing some families lining up for four hours in advance to secure the backpack and school supplies for their children.

“One kid was so excited that he hugged Councilman Andrews like he was Santa Claus,” said Rebecca Younger, founder of New Life Beginnings.

The backpacks, full of supplies, were distributed to kids ages 5 to 16, giving each of the students a better chance at succeeding in the classroom. The 6th District Back to School Fair also included school safety tips presented by the Long Beach Deputy Chief Robert Luna, as well as a demonstration from the Long Beach Fire Department, the Safe Moves Bike Rodeo and information booths to help the attendees with free community services.

8th District Councilman Al Austin and the Andy Street Community Association are joining forces to help over 1,000 kids get ready for the start of a new school year by giving away backpacks, school supplies, free haircuts, health screenings and free food at the “Back to School Summer Blast.”

The Blast will feature games, prizes, resources, entertainment and fun for the entire family. Covered California will be represented and St. Mary Medical Center will be providing the free health screenings. Music, free food and several resource booths will be offered.

“I am proud to partner with the community to ensure our kids are healthy and have the tools to learn and be prepared for school, I am also excited to hear from the community about what they would like to see in Phase II of Davenport Park,” Austin said in a statement

According to the release, members of the community can provide input on what they would like Phase II of Davenport Park to look like.

Long Beach’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine will be present to gather ideas for the next phase of the park, an additional 5.6 acres that will be completed after a required environmental remediation, due to the park’s location on a former landfill site.

According to the release, the Making Connections Alliance, of which the Andy Street Community is a member, was started as a way to bring social service coordinators and property managers of local affordable housing developments together. The affordable housing developments taking part in the event are: Northpointe Apartment Homes, Andy Street Community Association, Pacific City Lights and Long Beach & Burnett Apartments. The YMCA and Boys and Girls Club are also participating.

This end of summer event will take place this weekend on Saturday, August 16 between 10:00AM and 2:00PM AT “Pops” Davenport Park, located at 2910 E. 55th Way.

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Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].