BRADENTON -- With half a school year still left, one local church used its day of service to prepare children for success by giving away hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies.
"I think it's great what they did, most definitely," Marilyn Price said Saturday as hundreds of families came to the Boys & Girls Club, where the Redeemed Christian Center held its Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Project, "Unity in the Community" backpack give-away and resource rally. "It has everything a little one needs for school, and it's big enough to hold extra things too."
With two grown children, Price is now raising her granddaughter.
"This really came in handy," Price said. "It's good to get some help."
In addition to the giveaways, there was food including grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and pop corn as well as a bounce house and an inflatable slide for
"This is a nice event," Price said. "The kids seem to be happy, plenty of food and the bounce houses."
Ismael Nicaragua and his wife watched their two daughters enjoy themselves on the playground after having received some much-needed supplies.
"I think it's good that they're helping out the community," Nicaragua said. "It helps out a lot."
The goal was to send children back to school the second semester just as prepared as the first.
"Second semester, a lot of kids, their backpacks have broken straps, they have no crayons or paper," Assistant Pastor Ivette Benton said. "Often teachers end up spending money then."
An assistant principal at Jessie P. Miller Elementary, Benton said she sees how children will often not do their work later in the year because they don't have the supplies they need. This is what prompted Redeemed Christian Center to use the MLK Day of Service Grant for a backpack giveaway.
"We have always done it at the beginning of the year, but this past August we didn't do it because we noticed so many other organizations were doing it."
Any leftovers will be donated to local schools for children in need, Price said.
For Brenda Valladez, a mother of six, the mid-year giveaway was a welcome surprise.
"It's good, I didn't know they were doing this," Valladez said. "The children told me."
With all her children in elementary or middle school, supplies go fast in her house.
Her daughter, Anareli Roblero, very happy to get stuff she needed to be better prepared at school.
"It's helpful for the community," Roblero said.
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.