Volunteers at the Dayton backpack giveaway in 2018 gather for a group photo after a successful event.

It took less than a half-hour for a mountain of backpacks and school supplies to be given away Saturday morning, July 28, at the Dayton fire station in the first-ever backpack giveaway hosted by firefighters and police.

Organized by Dayton Police Department’s Tammy Alexander, the backpack giveaway proved to be much-needed in the Dayton community, where many residents are still recovering from last year’s Hurricane Harvey.

“In 25 minutes, we went through 200 backpacks and 30 bags of school supplies,” Alexander said. “There were people lining up outside two hours before the event began.”

Alexander says organizers are now planning to increase the number of backpacks and supplies they hand out next year.

“We think that once community organizations see how well it went, they will want to help out,” she said.

The backpacks were donated by Desoto, Texas-based New Favour, New Vision, a non-profit in which 1984 Dayton High School graduate Eric King is involved. When King heard about Alexander’s desire to host an event to help the community via Facebook, King reached out to her, and the plan for the backpack giveaway began to grow.

King said that the high numbers of people who turned out for the event shows there is a real need for assistance for Dayton families.

“There are a lot of families here still recovering from Harvey. The economy is still shaky for some people and there are a lot of kids who need help getting items for school,” he said. “When I was growing up, there was always someone in my parents’ corner to help them when they needed, so it’s a blessing now for me to give back to other children.”

King, who produces Christian-based movies through his company, King and Brown Enterprises, understands the value of children having all the supplies they need to get an education.

“That was one of the things I was taught by my parents — to get an education. No one can take that from you,” he said.

King said he is already making plans to participate in next year’s backpack giveaway, but plans to bring many more items to distribute.

Families who attended Saturday were treated to free hot dogs served up by city workers. Drinks were donated by Pepsi and chips were provided by Frito-Lay.

Dayton ISD personnel were on hand to sign up families for free and reduced school meals. As families left the fire station, they were able to get a close-up view of a Dayton fire truck and meet employees and elected officials who serve the city.


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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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