By Mike Kinney
Volunteers, local businesses and a local church were among those to join forces Saturday to provide backpacks filled with school supplies to the students of an after-school tutoring program in Richmond serving African American students.
The giveaway occurred at Nystrom Elementary School at 230 Harbour Way S. to benefit the district-wide Mafanikio Academic Coaching Program, which works to close the achievement gap for students with a focus on math and reading, according to the Rev. Andre Shumake Sr., who organized the event along with community advocate Antwon Cloird. Mafanikio is Swahili word for achievement.
About 50 backpacks with school supplies were given out to students via drive-through pickup. Volunteers also provided bags of fruits and vegetables for families.
It was the second annual giveaway of backpacks and school supplies benefiting the tutoring program.
Local businesses Green Remedy and Holistic Healing helped sponsor the event, said Cloird, the co-founder of Rich Minds, a rapid response organization that focuses on domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health trauma.
“We were blessed to have the help two of our local businesses that believe in the enhancement of education for under-privileged students,” Cloird said.
While students may be distance learning, they still need school supplies, said Rev. Shumake.
“Things will change and things will get better,” Shumake said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We believe, just give them the tools and supplies they need.”
Rev. Raymond Landry of Independent Holiness Church, located at 605 S.16th in Richmond, brought the food to donate. The church partners with the Bay Area Rescue Mission, West Contra Costa Unified School District and the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano as part of a community-wide effort to feed local families during difficult economic times. “People come for food and prayer,” said Rev. Landry.