PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — City Park in Portsmouth was transformed for a back-to-school event Saturday.
Organizations from all over came together to show their support.
The back-to-school giveaway was organized by the city of Portsmouth in partnership with the Big H.O.M.I.E.S community outreach program.
“We got bookbags over there we’re setting up a tent we’ve got two beauticians coming and 4 barbers to do hair for free, multiple bounce houses,” said President of Big H.O.M.I.E.S Community Outreach Program, Eugene Swinson.
Legacy Lab Services from Williamsburg also attended to offer free Covid vaccines.
“We try to do our part in trying to protect not only ourselves but our loved ones we have our young kids going back to school soon,” said Dr. Crystal Crewe.
Swinson says this event was in the works for the past 4 months with state and local leaders to combat the gun violence in the city, especially among the youth.
“For me, it’s the shock of how young the kids are. Not the violence itself but the ages of the kids that’s doing it,” said Swinson.
Swinson says he pulled himself out of a bad place, and he’s hoping to help others make better choices.
“My thing is to try and tell these kids before they even get to this point like hey, I wish I would’ve known some of this stuff when I was 15 16-year-old,” said Swinson.
One of the tents, not only passing out schools supplies but also information was the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office. They were in a section designated specifically for those with autism.
“You have to be patient with them they are really special, and they are smart kids and we just love being around them,” said Sergeant Anturnette Anders.
As the summer winds down, these local leaders and community advocates are hoping to set the children in Portsmouth on a good path by letting them know there are resources to help and people who care.