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 decided to do something to provide students and families with the resources to start the school year on the right foot. She is an alumna of Delta Sigma Theta, and asked the sorority's Northern Illinois University chapter to help put on the first Back to School Celebration in 2013. With the help of 13 community partners, the second annual celebration will be held at Welsh Park, on Russell Road in DeKalb, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 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 DeKalb School District 428 faculty and administrators. There will be a table for families who have not yet registered their children for the school year to do so.
Although distributing supplies 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 that 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."
Last year, more than 350 backpacks of supplies were distributed. Redmond said donations of supplies this year would be welcome.
"I'd rather have extra supplies and have those backpacks bulging than not have enough," she said. "School supplies don't go bad."
To donate supplies, email Redmond at firstname.lastname@example.org.