Children and parents score big with Backpack Giveaway
COMPTON—Faith Inspirational Missionary Baptist Church teamed up with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Compton Parks and Recreation on Friday, Aug. 17, for the fourth annual Backpack Giveaway at Wilson Park, giving Hub City kids and parents a leg up on school preparations.
The event drew hundreds of people to Wilson Park, where local volunteers made sure everyone went away happy.
“I am the pastor at Faith Inspirational Church and the community relations officer at Compton Station,” LASD Corporal Rafer Owens said. “When we combine that with our park proximity, it all comes together.”
The event featured 700 backpacks and supplies.
“The church bought the backpacks, but the parishioners collected money and purchased items like paper, pens, rulers, and crayons,” he said. “They collected money for a month and filled all 700 backpacks.”
“My mother is an English teacher, and she inspired me to participate in this wonderful event,” church member Camille Vowe said.
A better Compton begins from within, Pam Lacy said, and volunteering for events like the Backpack Giveaway touches her heart.
“We are taking this city back one street at a time,” she said. “Pastor Owens teaches us to love our neighbors.”
Lacy just sent her child off to college, and she understands the financial demands parents face every day.
Parent Blanca Sanchez said the church is extraordinarily generous.
“I have three school-age children and supplies are very costly,” she said. “Money is tight, and this makes a difference.”
For the students, picking a favorite color was all part of the fun.
“I enjoyed picking out my backpack,” Grace Sanchez said. “I liked the green ones best of all, and the supplies inside are great.”
One child said his backpack disappointed him.
“I wanted a black one, but settled for green,” Alejandro Sanchez said. “My old backpack is pretty beat up, and a new one is really cool. This helps my mother and that makes me happy.”
Dominguez High School Junior Robert Hernandez said his former backpack is in the trash.
“My last one got destroyed last year,” he said. “I want to be a phlebotomist when I grow up, and good school supplies make a difference. This is a great event.”
The Teen Intervention Program of Compton handed out booklets that offer guidelines for a happy life.
“The book combines the principles of the Koran, the Ten Commandments, and Hinduism,” Communications Secretary Ron Dowell said. “We use this in our life-skills program, which offers teenagers better choices than life on the street.”
Compton Station Corporal Rafer Owens said the event succeeded because of the people involved.
Owens praised his congregation for going the extra mile and making sure the students get taken care of each year.
“We live in a great society but overlook people who cannot make ends meet sometimes,” he said. “It really touches my heart when I see moms, dads and kids walk away with school supplies.”
Looking ahead, Owens said next year will be bigger and better.
“We plan on reaching out to businesses in the community next year and adding items like school shoes and uniforms,” he said.
Visit faithinspirational.org for more information about community programs in Compton.
Residents needing assistance from Compton Station can call 310-605-6500.