Parents and children happily gathered outside 2nd District City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s office at 16th and Wharton streets last Saturday morning as the councilman and his entourage distributed backpacks to eager students, from preschoolers to high school students.
Councilman Johnson, a native of South Philadelphia, stressed the importance of approaching this school year on a positive note in light of recent issues threatening the school district.
“In the midst of the budget crisis and uncertainty about education, this is an important way of raising the spirits of parents and students to make them feel better about the future of the school district,” said the councilman.
A total of 1,650 backpacks were collected for the event, 250 of them donated by Cleveland Cavaliers player Dion Waiters, who grew up in South Philadelphia. Other sponsors for the event included Penn National Hollywood Casino, which also contributed to the pension payments for the school district this year.
Kim Smith, a member of the Neighbors Invested in Childs Elementary School (NICE), voiced her appreciation for Councilman Johnson’s active presence in the community.
“I always support him, because he always supports me,” said Smith, whose daughter attended Childs Elementary and is dedicated to keeping Point Breeze a desirable community. “It’s a good area and people want to stay here – if they can afford to.”
Children and parents were greeted by Christopher Sample, Chief of Staff for Councilman Johnson.
“I’m always worried that people won’t come out to these kinds of things,” Sample said while watching the excited children receive their new supplies. “We’re trying to do a lot here. It’s changing rapidly.”
Councilman Johnson and his team organized four other backpack giveaways to be held at Max Myers Park, Girard Estates Park, Chew Playground and Hawthorne Park throughout the rest of the weekend.