'Something at the Park' organizers prepare students with supplies before school starts

To kick off the new school year, community members gathered at the Givens Park and Recreation Center in East Austin Saturday for the 12th annual 'Something at the Park' event.

"The community started this event so it’s natural that the community come to this event," organizer Alfred Bradford said.

The organizers, who are also childhood friends, said they created the event to give back to the community they grew up in.

"It’s in us," organizer Reese Herd said.

"We give from love," organizer LaTonya Pleasant-Wright said.

Community members dug into food and beat the heat with some snow cones and water slides. For the adults, companies provided insurance information and conducted on-the-spot interviews. Kids received fresh hair cuts, free backpacks, lunchboxes, and school supplies.

"Once they get here and the faces that they have when they see that backpack, even if it’s just a little thing, something that we think is so small, makes a big impact," Something at the Park organizer Desirae Hendricks Patterson said.

She said it makes an impact for parents too by taking away some of the stress that comes with the start of a new school year. "If your mom and your household has one less thing, it’s one less thing for the kid which means when you go to school on the first day, you can focus on school," Hendricks Patterson said.

As an educator, Hendricks Patterson said she encourages everyone to pitch in to help the community thrive and help kids have a successful school year. "It’s to be fresh, to get them on the right foot on that first day, give them the best possible opportunity to succeed and set them up for success for the new school year," Hendricks Patterson said.

"You just take away the factors of frustration and not wanting to go back to school and instead being like hey, I’m ready for school, I have everything I need and it gets you into a better mood," 10th grader Jayla Williams said.

The organizers said the reason they continue to have the event each year is for their people. They said they plan to have one again next year the Saturday before school starts.