Education

Rallies provide free backpacks for Fayette County students before school begins

Back to school rally gives away school supplies

Carmen Cotto of Cardinal Valley Elementary School explains how an annual back to school rally gives children free supplies for their first day of school.
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Carmen Cotto of Cardinal Valley Elementary School explains how an annual back to school rally gives children free supplies for their first day of school.

Ashley French said Saturday was the first time she and her two sons, Anthony, 6, and Xander, 4, had taken part in a Lexington back-to-school rally.

“It’s teaching them to have respect for people, to care for people and to always help people,” French said at the rally at Douglass Park.

In 15 neighborhoods, community volunteers, the Fayette County Public Schools and the YMCA of Central Kentucky gave students more than 7,000 drawstring backpacks filled with school supplies. The rallies have gone on for 10 years; the YMCA began supporting the event in 2011.

The rallies began at 9 a.m. with registration and family activities. Backpacks were distributed at noon. A community pool party at Douglass Park followed at 1 p.m.

Rallies were sponsored by Kentucky Utilities, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, Anthem BlueCross Blue Shield Medicaid, United Way of the Bluegrass, PNC Bank, Rotary Club of Lexington, Passport Health, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and Fifth Third Bank.

Booker T. Washington Elementary Principal Veda Stewart said at the Douglass Park rally that she was grateful for the support.

“They are making an investment in our most precious resource, and that is our children,” Stewart said. “We know it takes a village, they say, to raise a child, but I think it goes a little further. I think it takes a committed and involved community.”

Lexington Commissioner of Social Services Chris Ford and Urban County Councilman James Brown represented LFUCG at Douglass Park.

“Back-to-school rallies show how grassroots collaboration comes together to help Fayette County Public Schools support our students,” Brown said. “I think in order for our students to be successful, we all have to chip in.”

Carmen Cotto, the family resource coordinator at Cardinal Valley Elementary, organized the Valley Park rally. She said Immanuel Baptist Church donated sturdy backpacks to students at Valley Park. Valley Park gave backpacks to more than 500 students.

“It makes me happy, because the community is pretty low-income and it’s a big help,” Cotto said.

McKenna Horsley: 859-231-3197, @mckennahorsley

Where back to school rallies were held:

  • Coolavin Park
  • Douglass Park
  • Gainesway Park
  • Gardenside Christian Church
  • Gethsemane Lutheran Chruch
  • Green Acres Park
  • Imani Family Life Center
  • Lou Johnson Park
  • Marlboro Park
  • Russel Cave Church of Christ
  • Shiloh Baptist Church
  • Speigle Hieghts Parks
  • Total Grace
  • Valley Park
  • Woodhill Park
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