Mayor Sylvester Turner recently welcomed thousands of students and their families to the 12th Annual Mayor’s Back to School Fest presented by Shell. The event took place on Saturday, August 13, 2022. After two years as a drive-through, no-contact distribution due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event made its return to an in-person event at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
The annual fest presented by Shell USA, Inc. is designed to help economically disadvantaged Houston-area elementary school students and their families as they prepare to return to school.
“With the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Houston families simply cannot afford backpacks and school supplies. My administration is focused on creating equity, particularly when it comes to our children. Families have been hit hard by health issues or unemployment, so this event is intended to provide them some relief,” said Mayor Turner. “I thank our sponsors for stepping up to the plate to help. Due to their generosity, thousands of kids will have the tools they need for a successful start to the school year.”
The event held at the George R. Brown Convention Center had 25,000 backpacks with shool supplies for every child who attended.
“It’s very helpful. These backpacks are full of stuff,” said parent Irma Salazar. “They’re ready to go to school.”
But it didn’t end there. The city partnered with many state, local, and private organizations to set these kids up with everything they may need such as vision, dental, and general health screenings.
“You can get your immunizations, you can register to vote, so it’s been helpful all the way around,” said parent Milton Ortiz.
Parents could also sign their kids up with various after school activities.
“All the information that they offer, the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, just things people need in general and don’t know where to go for the resources, I think that was the best,” said parent Deyona Nicholas.
It wasn’t just for the kids either. The Harris County District Attorney’s office handed out gun locks in an effort to combat rising crime.
Spokesperson Sheri Cortez said, “We encourage the parents to lock up their guns even if they’re in their vehicles in the glove boxes, because we’re so high right now on guns being stolen out of vehicles. So far we’re up to 10 a day.”
Everything offered was all the more helpful for these families considering high inflation has impacted so many aspects of their lives.
“Anything helps,” added Ortiz. “Right now, everything is so high, prices on everything is high, so everything counts. If you can get out and get it, I would. “
This was the first in-person Back to School Fest the city as hosted. The past two years were drive-thru because of the COVID-19 pandemic