Back to School Fest aids HISD students, parents

August 11, 2012 7:13:33 PM PDT
Many families are struggling in this tough economy, and that means some kids do not have what they need to start school. In response to that need, Shell Oil, Motiva Enterprises and others partnered with the city of Houston to help children get a head start.

The five Velasquez children are excited about the new school year, especially after Saturday.

"A lot of people are unfortunate right now and these are hard times, so this is a good thing that the city is doing for everybody," mother Rosemary Velasquez said.

They were among the tens of thousands who gathered for the city's second annual Back to School Fest. The event featured free school uniforms, immunizations and health screenings, backpacks and school supplies, plus information about the district's programs and community resources.

"We are providing school supplies for 25,000 kids who will start school in a couple of weeks, and we're just excited that they're here," Houston City Councilmember Larry Green said. "And as you can see, here in the city we have a great need, and today we're about bridging that need and providing the school supplies for these kids."

With 279 schools and more than 200 thousand students, there is a lot of work to be done. Eighty percent of HISD students are from low-income households. Many do not have health insurance.

"This is about a deep need," Mayor Annise Parker said. "School supplies add up and just being able to take off and get immunizations is a problem for a lot of families, so this is just one place where all of that can be taken care of at one time."

The Houston Food Bank gave out fresh produce, and Houston barber colleges and hairstyling schools even gave vouchers for free haircuts.

Children left the event confident, and ready to learn.

"It was a great blessing because I don't have money to get any of this stuff; therefore, it was very good and a great blessing for me," Shanta Parker said.

Houston Police Department was also at the event, taking photos and fingerprinting children for parents. Officers recommend all parents have a current photo of their children in the event that they are reported missing.


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