Smith County students get backpacks and more at ‘School is Cool’ event

Smith County students get backpacks and more at ‘School is Cool’ event
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 11:43 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2023 at 10:38 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The City of Tyler hosted the 10th annual “School is Cool” event with the help of donors from around to community to provide students with free backpacks and essential school supplies.

This year, the Tyler Junior College football team and volunteers handed out 2,000 backpacks filled with notebooks, pencils and more to students in Pre-K through 12th grade.

This was the first year back fully in person, and not in cars, since 2019, and people were waiting in line for hours to get a ticket guaranteeing their kids backpacks.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been able to be right there and see the kid get their first backpack, and that’s when I just breathe a sigh of relief and go ‘Yeah, it’s been worth it,’” says LaToya Young, Executive Director of Tyler Area Business Education Council.

Her committee helped to organize this year’s event at the W.T. Brookshire Conference Center and the Rose Garden Center.

Each backpack costs about $35 worth of donations, and Young says the community that shows up “bigger and better every year,” allowing the event to grow and help more people.

People like Claudia Ramirez braved the triple-digit with grateful attitudes.

“I do know that it does help a lot of parents. I, as a single parent, it helps a bunch with everything that they give us, and don’t have to worry as much about getting the rest of the school supplies,” she says.

Mom Tamara Hill says it can be difficult to afford everything on the back-to-school lists, but that events like this are proof of the community’s commitment to childhood education and helping those in need.

When asked about her thoughts on the long line, she says it represented a community that was invested in the future generations.

“[It’s] dedication for their children, motivation for their kids. They want to get what they need for their children at the end of the day. It’s about the kids, and they’re our future, so we need to help them be great. They are our little people. Help them be great,” she says.

And the aim of this event is to do just that: make kids great by getting them prepared and excited to learn this school year and school years to come.