This past Friday we hosted our annual back-to-school bash for the children living at the Sulzbacher Center. Two activities were planned to get the kids excited about going back to school. The first activity was a back to school clothes shopping trip to Old Navy. With excitement in the air, the first busload of children arrived at Old Navy at 8 a.m. and the second busload of kids arrived at 9:00. Close to 100 children, who receive services from the Sulzbacher Center, got to pick out a new outfit for their first day of school. This is the fifth year in a row we partnered with Old Navy for back to school shopping. The great thing about Old Navy is that they offer very stylish outfits at and affordable price, but they also carry school uniforms. Some, but not all, schools in Duval County require students to wear uniforms.
Not only did the kids get to shop, but they also got to enjoy an evening full of fun before heading back to school. We were afraid that it was going to rain because the clouds had been looming all day. After weeks of planning we did not want to have to cancel our back-to-school party, but as 4 p.m. approached the sky was clear and we were able to let the fun commence. The front of the children’s center was filled with bounce houses, music, ring toss, popcorn, cotton candy, snow cone machines and carnival style games to get the kids pumped up and excited about their return to school. To start the year off on the right foot, each child received a colorful new backpack loaded with brand new school supplies. Each backpack had a child’s name on it and was handpicked by our dedicated children’s program staff based upon the child’s personal preference.
“We want the kids to feel confident and excited about returning to school”, says Maxine Engram the Child Development Program Manager. The kids ran around with their faces painted and their new slap bracelets in hand. The DJ played “I Smile” as the kids and parents sang the words, “It’s so hard to look up when you’ve been down. Sure would hate to see you give up now. You look so much better when you smile, so smile.” At the end of the party dinner was served by Chef Kurt. He cooked up tasty hotdogs, hamburgers and coleslaw. As the evening came to a close it was clear to see how excited the party had made the kids to start back to school on Monday with their new outfit and backpack in tote.
This event wouldn’t be possible without our amazing donors Mitch and Chris Stone, North Jacksonville Baptist Church, Mario Butler Foundation and Roger and Sheila Williams.