Hoping to foster a more accessible education for all students, MCISD got ready for their annual Back to School Bash by stuffing backpacks with school supplies for the upcoming year.
Students, faculty and administration gathered at Bryan Elementary School this past Tues. morning to put together 2,000 backpacks with basic school supplies specifically for Mission Consolidated Independent School District students. The volunteers organized everything in record time, according to Craig Verley, the director of Public Relations and Marketing for the district.
Volunteers included a “scout troop, community volunteers from H-E-B, some staff members and teachers who are still on vacation and various student organizations.” Verley said they had over 100 people helping.
“It would be great [for it to grow],” Verley said. “Because that just means we are serving more students. A lot of it will depend on the community.”
Started by former MCISD Superintendent Ricardo Lopez five years ago, the Back to School Bash involves free haircuts for kids given by cosmetology students, free eye screenings from the Lions Club, an immunization clinic put on by the Hidalgo County Health Department where students can pay $5 per immunization, a mobile clinic run by Ashley Pediatrics which will provide sports physicals for $20, late online registration and additional information for every MCISD campus.
“We really tried to create a one-stop back to school event,” Verley said. “We actually usually have families start to line up as early as 2 o’clock in the afternoon.”
The bash, which was held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, serves approximately 5,000 MCISD students annually. The backpacks with supplies were handed out on a first come, first serve basis, and were stuffed by several organizations within the district.
“The school supplies in the backpacks aren’t meant to be everything the child needs, it’s more of a helping hand for the family,” Verley said. “The school supplies lists vary quite a bit from campus to campus, but this is a good general start. It’ll be a few less things that those families have to buy. They can turn around and use that money saved on other back-to-school needs.”
Verley also said there was a significant need for donated items for students in the district.
“And Dr. Lopez five years ago saw that need, and that’s how it all began,” Verley said. “And we [the PR Department] added onto the event.”
The items are entirely funded by donations and community support, no money from the district goes into this project. MCISD gets help and donations from Palmview, Alton, Mission, The Mission Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club and the Education Foundation of MCISD.
“This is all community-driven,” Verley said. “It’s all through our businesses, and the community coming together. That’s what is really unique about the bash, it’s three communities coming together in support of students.”
Isela Gomez and Oneida Saenz, coaches for the Mission High School High Flyers dance team, were a couple of the teachers present at the volunteer backpack stuffing on Tues. They spoke about the importance of helping out the community and MCISD students.
“It’s really important for us to share the importance of helping out the community,” Gomez said. “The students that are helping are actually some of the recipients of those backpacks as well, so our own community benefits from what our own kids are contributing.”
“The only way you can get the community to help is to get the word out,” Saenz added. “It’s always important to teach our students that we are a community.”
The MCISD Board of Trustees President, Petra Ramirez, and board member Minnie Rodgers, were also volunteering for the event.
“It’s great to give back to the community and meet the needs of the unfortunate kids that we have,” Ramirez said. “We want them to feel that they are just as important as everybody else.”
Rodgers said her experience as a teacher gave her a close insight to how many students are in need, and how much assistance needs to be given.
“We do have a need,” Rodgers said. “And you never know until you’re caught in that. I went to school in San Isidro, and we didn’t do backpacks. We didn’t even own backpacks. And I feel for those who can’t afford it.”
Dr. Carolina Perez, during her second day on the job as the district’s new superintendent, was also in attendance at the event. She was proud to see the empathy coming from MCISD students in particular.
“It’s something that nowadays, is just a wonderful trait that our staff and our parents have instilled in our children,” Perez said. “To give back to the community and be sensitive to the needs of others, that’s just a beautiful sight.”
Perez said that giving is one of the best things people can do for their minds and bodies.
“When we give to others, it’s healing for our body,” Perez said. “When you do something for someone else, not only are you helping that person, but you’re helping your own social and emotional wellbeing.”