Oakland backpack giveaway sends message of encouragement to students

ByAnser Hassan via KGO logo
Thursday, August 11, 2022
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More than 200 backpacks were donated to kids at the Acorn Projects in West Oakland in an effort to encourage students to stay in school.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- More than 200 backpacks were donated to kids at the Acorn Projects in West Oakland.

Sixth grader, Cuniyah Hinton, came by with her mom and two siblings.

"(I can use this) for my school work and stuff. And not have to go to the store and buy supplies," says 11-year-old Hinton.

The center of the apartment complex was transformed into an afternoon of festivities with games and barbecues - all free for kids and their families. But behind the carnival-like atmosphere, organizers say something more important is happening.

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"(Our) kids go to school feeling all depressed. The cycle is all too normal for us. It is all too normal for us. And we are at the point where we are ready to change that," says Tyra Newton, referring to the cycle of violence.

Newton is one of the event organizers. She grew up on these same streets. She says their local schools lack the resources to compete with other Bay Area schools. That puts these kids at a disadvantage, which can lead to disillusionment, and in some instances on a path to gangs and violence.

"To have good things, they have to be provided good things. How would they know to be good, if they never had it good?" says Newton.

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Volunteers say providing kids with even basic school supplies can have a huge impact on attitudes towards staying in school. The organizers even call it a form of "violence prevention," by making important investments in the community.

"Stay in school! Stay in school! It's a positive thing. Then go onto college, become something!" That's the message of support and encouragement from Deaunte Williams, another one of the volunteers.

The neighborhood-at-large is struggling, yet still managed to collect enough donations to buy the backpacks filled with school supplies. No corporate sponsors. Just neighbors pitching in as a commitment to fight for change.

"We want to start with the younger generation and give them something to look forward to. Maybe that will be a way we can change things in the future," says Newton.

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