PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Balling on the River came back to Portsmouth for the third year.

The Saturday event came out of a partnership between the City of Portsmouth and Big Homies, a community outreach organization.

Big Homies President Eugene Swinson praised the turnout.

“It was a real diverse group out here,” Swinson said. “Pretty much everybody was out here today. Different community groups, different nationalities were out here. Pretty much what makes up the city was out here today.”

The event included a large school supply giveaway, and multiple basketball games with the showstopper bring an all-star game with the Virginia Hoop League.

In the past, more than 2,500 people have shown up to the event.

Swinson said Saturday was no exception with many people even showing up before the event started.

“People came here early,” Swinson said. “We started at 12, and people were waiting around at like 11:45 to make sure they got school supplies.”

He explained the two main purposes of the event: bringing the community together, and helping to create a safe school environment.

He said having the right school supplies is essential for kids to succeed in school, telling 10 On Your Side that keeping kids busy with their studies can help deter them from gun violence.

“When the kids have the necessary tools they need to succeed in the classroom, school doesn’t get too boring,” he said. “If you’re not doing well, or if you don’t have the tools you need, sometimes you’ll shy away from it. “

Over 50 vendors gave away multiple different school supplies as students have already returned to school.

“A majority of them participated for the past two years, so it’s almost like we’re coming back,” Swinson said. “It’s like a little reunion. “

He said the event was a success and he plans to have the same event next year.

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