Back to school party provides low-income students the tools to start the year right

DeKALB – Treveda Redmond just wants children to have the chance to be successful in the classroom.

An eighth-grade language arts teacher at Clinton Rosette Middle School in DeKalb, Redmond has seen that the playing field is not always level for low-income students.

“Some students come to school hungry. Some have no lunch,” she said. “I’ve been a teacher in the DeKalb school district for almost 14 years, and I’ve seen the students with the bare minimum of supplies.”

Last year, Redmond, an alumnus of Delta Sigma Theta, asked the sorority’s Northern Illinois University chapter to help put on the first Back to School Celebration in 2013. The second annual celebration will be held at Welsh Park, on Russell Road in DeKalb, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9.

Every student who attends the event will receive a backpack stuffed with school supplies, Redmond said. The Barb Food Mart and Northern Illinois Food Bank will provide at least 300 bags of nonperishable food to the families, and also plan to bring a pallet of fresh fruit and a mobile food pantry to distribute refrigerated and frozen foods, Redmond said. There will be free haircuts for children and free blood pressure checks for adults. The DeKalb County Health Department will be on hand to provide information about immunizations and Women, Infants and Children food assistance.

Other partners at the event include the DeKalb police and fire departments and District 428 faculty and administrators.

Though distributing resources is the main goal, the event will have a party atmosphere, with a DJ, a bounce house, refreshments, face painting and games. The fire department will bring a fire truck children can explore, Redmond said.

“We want people to have fun, but we also want to provide them all those resources in one place to start the school year off right,” Redmond said. “If we can take away some of those students’ challenges – we have food for you, we have supplies for you – they can focus on succeeding in the classroom. That’s my goal.”

Redmond said donations of school supplies are welcome.

“I’d rather have extra supplies and have those backpacks bulging than not have enough,” she said. “School supplies don’t go bad.”

Sponsors include New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Phi Beta Sigma, Alpha Phi Alpha, SIMBA/SIMSA, Zeta Phi Beta, KishHealth System, Delta Sigma Theta, DeKalb fire and police departments, the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, the Northern Illinois Food Bank, the DeKalb County Health Department, and Live Healthy DeKalb County.

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