Coronavirus didn’t slow down City of Hammond’s annual Back to School Bash on Friday morning.
Hundreds of vehicles arrived at Hammond Westside Montessori School for a drive-through version of the school supply giveaway. By noon, all but a few remaining boxes of the 1,200 backpacks stuffed for the event had gone home with Tangipahoa Parish students.
City officials, court employees, teachers, volunteers and sponsors staffed the event, handing bags through car windows to their recipients.
Back to School Bash has been held in recent years inside Hammond Westside’s buildings and has featured various school departments represented by vendor tables. The bags this year featured some of the resources that would have been available at the tables, such as pamphlets on bullying or nutrition.
City spokesperson Lisa Lambert said the bags always include five pencils, three folders and one pack of loose leaf paper. A composition notebook was a new addition to everyone’s bags this year.
Donations from various parties also resulted in bags containing randomly selected lagniappe supplies like erasers, pens and extra pencils.
Volunteers from Woodland Park Baptist Church packed tissues, hand sanitizer and a postcard for a free snow cone at the church in each bag.
Those volunteers also showed up Friday to welcome visitors. Church member Paul “Bo” Bustin and Connections Pastor Michael Blue helped hand out bags.
“It’s just part of us being involved in our community,” Bustin said.
Across the driveway, their fellow congregants Whitney O’Flynn and Abbie and Johnee Cole waved pom-poms and held up signs cheering on Tangipahoa’s students.
O’Flynn plans to set up the snow cone machine at Hammond City Court soon to serve the court employees to show appreciation for their part in the event.
One court employee, Ashley Ard, delivered backpacks to some students who were unable to attend Back to School Bash. Her co-worker, Chantal Robinson Imes, was having fun helping at the event and burst into song when she realized it was Ard’s birthday.
“Everybody’s been really grateful,” Imes said of the backpack recipients. “We had one little girl come through and she was crying she was so excited.”