A party in Porters
Neighborhood bids goodbye to summer and hello to new school year
Published: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 1:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 1:09 p.m.
Blessed was how Tiffany Carter of Gainesville described feeling after receiving two backpacks filled with school supplies and personal hygiene items for her children during the 2nd annual Porters Summer Block Party.
Held Saturday afternoon at the Porters Community Center, the event was right on time for the start of the new school year. The threatening rain held off until near the very end of the event, giving members of the Porters Community Neighborhood Association, which sponsored the event, a chance to give away close to 100 backpacks.
"This was a real blessing for those of us who were not able to afford book bags and school supplies and it was very nice for the community to get together and eat, talk, have fun and get school supplies for the children to have when they start school," said Carter, who was raised in Porters, but doesn't live there anymore. She said the two backpacks she received will be for her 12-year-old twins, Adriaona and Anthony, who are sixth-graders at Lincoln Middle School.
The event was festive, complete with the disc jockeying skills of Steve Warren and the face-painting skills of Alyne Harris, a local folk artist who lives in Porters, and Lindsay Rizzo, a project coordinator with the Gainesville Redevelopment Agency.
The nearly 200 people attending the event were provided barbecue chicken and ribs, grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and steaks, baked beans and green beans, purlieu rice and an assortment of desserts.
There also were several vendors present, including representatives from the Alachua County Public Works Department, city of Gainesville Bicycle/Pedestrian Program, city of Gainesville Office of Equal Opportunity, the Santa Fe College College Reach Out Program, East Gainesville Instruction program, FloridaWorks, Modern Woodsmen Financial Fraternity Inc. and others.
The table manned by Dakova Batey with the city bicycle/pedestrian program was popular with children, who continuously stopped by to get notebooks, pencils and other items, all of which contained safety tips for children to use on the way to and from school.
There was also a demonstration by Gainesville Police Department Officer Tony Ferro and a dog from the GPD K-9 Unit that captured the attention of many of the children.
Officer Ernest Graham, a GPD crime prevention officer, spent the afternoon passing out rubber wrist bands to promote cycling and pedestrian safety and stick-on badges, while also interacting with residents.
Gigi Simmons, president of the Porters Community Neighborhood Association, said the event was a success because of the donations received from Ann Adams of Gainesville, city OEO, Eastwood Homes Inc., Girls 2 Young Ladies Inc. and University of Florida graduate students.
"It is important for us to continue to do this to relieve our parents of another economic burden, and for us being able to come in and lighten that burden is a blessing," Simmons said.
Johnnie Reaves of Gainesville, who brought six of her grandchildren to the event, agrees.
"My grandchildren just wanted to come and have some fun and get the book bags, but for their parents, this is a blessing because it is one less thing they will have to buy to get ready for school, especially for single parents like my daughters," Reaves said.