INDIANAPOLIS — Community partners came together to give away 2,000 backpacks full of school supplies to children on Saturday.
It was hosted at the Marion County Department of Child Services on Keystone Avenue. DCS Marion county regional manager, Peggy Surbey and director of Mackida Loceal & Trip Mentoring, LaShaune Triplett, , organized the event.
"We see hope because we see youth. We see families. We're able to talk to them and see what their needs are," Triplett said.
"People might just need some additional support and help, and that's great. We don't want any break in services for the families," Surbey said.
There were plenty of activities for the kids, while parents brought home free goodies and were able to learn about family services they can access in their neighborhoods.
Kids played on bouncy houses, ate snow cones, and took pony rides. The parents enjoyed stocking up on fresh vegetables, cleaning supplies, and school vouchers.
This event fits in with larger efforts on behalf of city leaders to create a long-term violence prevention strategy. Community leaders are working to address the root causes of violence, such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of services.
"These root issues, these root causes, they didn't just happen overnight, so they're going to have to take a while," district 3 city-county councilor Keith Graves (D) said.
"This is a good example of the community coming together, and prevention is when vendors come and provide information. That's part of prevention right there," Malachi Walker, founding director of Young Men, Inc. Youth Ministry, a mentorship program for youth said.
Like many of the violence prevention programs, the expo focused on supporting families and children, and some of the young people are starting to notice.
"You don't see this a lot. Especially with all the violence going around in the city, this really warms my heart, makes me smile just to see it," 16-year-old Patrick Collier said.
"This is definitely going to keep us kids safe. It's taking time out of our day so we don't have to be out on the block or in the neighborhood doing something that we don't need to be doing," Cameron Washington, 14, said.
Courtney Bess and her three children, Lakae, 5, Lamonte, 11, and Lanae, 14, enjoyed the expo. Bess has noticed the effort city leaders are putting towards keeping her family safe. That is a foundation for trust to grow.
"It was at zero a couple years ago. I was just praying for all these kids that were growing up in this society we're in nowadays," she said.
But these days, she has a little more trust in her city. On a scale of 1-10...
"I'd say like a 6 or a 7. We're getting there," she said.