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Free back to school event builds momentum for new year

The Blade
The Blade
 2022-08-10

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Jaylen Walker of Maumee expects the coming school year to be the worst ever because he feels that school gets more challenging academically every year.

On Wednesday, the 11-year-old Gateway Middle School sixth grader said he felt “a little better” about going back to school.

“I’ve got my book supplies and my hot dog. I enjoyed everything here,” young Walker said, adding that he has about 14 more vacation days.

The boy was one of about 100 children who received their free backpacks with school supplies in the first 30 minutes of a back-to-school community gathering at Seaway Marketplace, 1707 Cherry St., in Toledo store manager Steve Tracy said.

The event spanned three hours. Free hot dogs, chips, and water were available, too.

Mr. Tracy said he was happy to be part of the effort to help those in need while increasing awareness of the back-to-school time.

“This is a difficult time,” Mr. Tracy said. “The prices are increasing … but we [Seaway Marketplace] have fared well through this and are happy to be able to give back to the community.”

Cindy Pisano, Mercy Health Healthy Connections supervisor, said in a statement that the event was also “a way to celebrate starting this upcoming school year full of healthy habits.”

Along with a school-supplies giveaway, the program featured health screenings and information about a Mercy Health fruits and vegetable prescription program and a smoking cessation program for pregnant women.

Additionally, there was information about the Getting Healthy Zone. This a community-driven initiative to increase infant vitality, improve the health of residents, and create a community where people want to live, work, and visit within the ZIP codes of 43608, 43610, and 43620.

Erika Blake, Mercy Health spokesman, said the effort was sponsored by Seaway Marketplace, Mercy Health, and Premier Bank, which partnered to help area families have a successful start to the school year.

Tanya Walker, Jaylen’s mother, said the event was “a huge help” to her.

“It’s a year of hard times financially, so it’s a great help,” she went on to say. “And every little bit helps.”

Lakisha Boyd, 41, of Toledo, agreed with her, adding that she felt relieved now that her two sons, aged 3 and 8, had their school supplies.

As they were ready to leave the event, each had a backpack behind his back, moving and talking excitedly.

“This saved us a lot,” the single mother said, adding that the money saved on the school supplies would go toward paying the bills.

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