Gainesville Middle School eighth-grader Jamel Segar is among the local students headed back to class with a new book bag full of supplies thanks to the inaugural back to school giveaway hosted by the Roderick Hughey Ministries.
“It’s a good opportunity because most parents can’t afford book bags. It’s good that a church like this is giving out bags. My other book bag was small so I’ve got to get a bigger one,” Jamel said.
Under a tent outside Voices of Faith North on Athens Street in Gainesville, Jamel looked through the tables of book bags sorted by specific school needs: kindergarten through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grades and ninth through 12th grades.
“It will help the whole community of Gainesville, and mostly Atlanta Street because a lot of bad stuff happens over there, but it’s a good influence for kids to be able to have book bags and (school supplies),” Jamel said.
Supported by community leaders, businesses and donations, Roderick Hughey Ministries was able to provide more than 100 book bags and supplies.
Apostle Roderick Hughey Sr. put together the committee responsible for the back-to-school event.
“Of course, our whole thing is bridging the gap, giving back to the community, trying to help our kids stay interested in learning,” Hughey said.
“They go to school to socialize and not to learn. So we are trying to make learning fun but at the same time we are trying to make learning a key to them.”
Hughey hopes students realize that from elementary school to senior year, everything they learn is going to open the door for them to real life.
“A lot of kids are going to school without the tools they need. So if we give (them) the tools, at least that’s one thing (they) don’t have to worry about,” he said.
Committee member Tacoa Robinson spent Saturday helping students find the book bags they needed, giving out additional pencils to take with them.
“Everybody, as far as the kids go, aren’t fortunate enough to have the supplies, so the committee wanted to give back to the community and let them know that we’re here,” Robinson said.
“We give out to our church but I wanted a way to get out in the community, so with the committee we decided to start this. We’ll do it every year.”
Every student who stopped had a choice of book bag styles and colors. Brenda Ray of Cordele was glad for the help provided to the children in the community.
“All families don’t have as much as others have, so we wanted the children to feel good about themselves going back to school,” Ray said.
“We want children to have self-confidence, we want them to have some of the same things that the other children have so that they won’t feel different or feel less than. They’ll have new book bags and new pencils and new things to start the school year with.”
Without the help and support of several community partners, Ray said they would not have been able to pull the event off.
“The community came together as a whole and that’s what it takes, a whole community, not just one entity, but everyone in the community coming together,” said Ray. “We appreciate the families, parents, the community coming out and supporting this event so that our children can start off successful.”
To contact the Roderick Hughey Ministries for more information or ways to donate, email email@example.com, or call 678-331-7725.