Set of 700 school supplies backpacks for the youth rally

A student receives a backpack from a past youth rally.

St. Charles Parish and United Way of St. Charles are once again teaming up to help ensure young people in the parish have the necessary school supplies for the coming year through their annual Youth Rally/Backpack event Giveaway.

It is set for July 31, from 9 a.m. to noon, or until it’s all gone, at the Lafon Performing Arts Center in Luling. Like last year, the draw will only be done at the drive-thru, in order to respect social distancing measures. Children must be residents of Saint-Charles Parish and must be present in the vehicle to receive a backpack, which will be filled with school supplies.

Each backpack contains pencils, pens, notebooks, USB drive, folders, hand sanitizer, composition notebooks and a calculator. Supplies may vary by age group. In addition, children will receive a Subway meal and a hygiene kit.

700 backpacks are distributed each year during the rally.

Kacy Kernan, director of community impact for United Way of St. Charles, said the dedication to the event even during last year’s pandemic is because the cause matters. She noted that the average cost of school supplies for any given child in 2021 is nearly $200, making this time of year difficult for many parents.

“Many years ago, our goal was to create an event where families in need of help could hang out, learn about community resources, and get a boost on the supplies they needed for school. “said Kernan, also noting that over the years the event has grown into a partnership with organizations such as Blessed to be a Blessing, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, the St. Charles Parish Public Schools, St. Charles Parish Community Services Department, and A Safe Space of St. Charles.

While in the past the event represented an outdoor gathering for students assembled with activities beyond the giveaway, the shift to a drive-in event was inevitable in the current climate.

“While we prefer to host an in-person event where the community comes together, we hosted the drive-in event last year out of necessity and it worked really well,” Kernan said. “During the initial planning, we didn’t know what July would be like, so we decided to do the drive-in event again. Although it is unconventional, it still allows families who need help to get it.

Ensuring that help is given is key, as it can make all the difference in whether a child can maximize the education they need to receive in the coming year.

“We are happy to be able to continue this event year after year. We believe that education is the key to lifelong success and the goal of this event is to prepare as many children as possible for that success,” Kernan said.

For more information on the rally, one can call Eliza Eugene at (504) 451-4712 or Roanne Sampson at (985) 308-1700.

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