The 7th annual back to school event adopts a drive-thru model to support distance learning during the pandemic.
By: Angela Redding
Photos: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.
Los Angeles, CA, (The Hollywood Times) 8/16/2020 “Regardless if you’re in school or not, some type of education needs to continue to happen. Maybe these backpacks are a little bit of excitement to get people rolling with that,” stated Los Angeles Dodgers Pitcher, Kershaw’s Challenge, Clayton Kershaw
The 2020 school year has arrived in the face of COVID-19. And with the start of a new school year comes the need for school supplies. During normal conditions, it may be hard for some families to provide the necessary items their child/children need to get the new school year going. The pandemic, loss of jobs, and budget cuts can make it even harder for families.
A normal list of items needed for elementary school students would include:
The list very easily can and most often does include new shoes, new clothes, and or uniforms as well. Parents who found themselves in need of a helping hand this year were able to receive help from four powerhouses this past Saturday, August 15, 2020, at Dodger Stadium.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, the Dodgers Foundation, Kershaw’s Challenge, and The Los Angeles Dream Center partnered together to provide essential items for families with the 7th annual back to school drive-thru.
Attendees and youth organizations were pre-registered and selected to be apart of the event that ran from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at Dodger Stadium.
Families received backpacks, food boxes made possible by Melissa’s Produce, face masks, sunscreen, hygiene supplies from UCLA Health, Sound Body Sound Mind home physical education kits, school supplies, and other materials needed for the new school year.
Clayton and Ellen Kershaw were not able to attend in person due to the current city and state health restrictions.
Not to be “outdone” by restrictions; the Kershaw’s did attend virtually on a large monitor placed right at the entrance of the backpack distribution area.
A great surprise for ALL in attendance.
Ellen Kershaw commented, “These kids have had so much canceled in the last six months. I think it’s really special for us to be able to say this is happening. This is something they really look forward to.”
Of the 3,700 attending the drive-thru event, recipient families included LADF’s Dodgers RBI sports-based youth development program, and partners include the Boys and Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley, YMCA Los Angeles, Girls Academic Leadership Academy, Woodcraft Rangers, Crystal Stairs, School on Wheels, and the Compton Unified School District. Community distributions will also support Pueblos del Rio, Nickerson Gardens, Imperial Courts, San Fernando Gardens, and William Mead Housing.
Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation CEO, Nichol Whiteman spoke with THT about the event.
“We are here at Dodger Stadium today for the 7th annual Dream Center, Kershaw’s Challenge Backpack Bash; which is now the backpack bash drive-thru. Essentially, obviously, the year of COVID has made all of us be quite creative and innovative in how we do things… The Dodgers and The Dodger’s Foundation are here supporting Kershaw’s Challenge and The Dream Center in their annual drive-thru – really an opportunity to continue to provide families who will be going back to school next week with backpacks for school, educational resources, and fitness-P.E. kits, that kids can use at home. And so today is about helping with what we believe is a really challenging time, a really daunting time for a lot of families. Thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands of kids will go back to school on Tuesday and we want them to feel like we didn’t put this aside this year… We still feel that although things aren’t as normal as we would like them to be, that there is something about providing this level of happiness and this level of back-to-school feeling that I think is very important to change the moods of many of our families right now.”
Last year’s back-to-school bash was very different.
It was held on the campus of the Los Angeles Dream Center with water slides, food, and face painting for kids. Kershaw, Turner, and Taylor were on hand to meet and greet everyone and hand out backpacks.
The Dream Center and Kershaw’s Challenge, founded and run by Clayton and Ellen Kershaw, decided this was not the year to give up and stop helping those in need.
THT spoke with Matthew Barnett, Co-Founder of The Los Angeles Dream Center.
THT: “For many years now, six to be exact, the Dream Center has given away backpacks to school-aged students to help them start the new school year.”
THT: “Why did you decide to continue the give away during this hectic time in the world?”
Barnett: “I think this is the greatest time ever to do it. Because anything you can do to bring joy to people’s lives, put something in their hand to make them feel that they’re loved and somebody’s given to them in the middle of hard times, I mean COVID’s taken a lot. So to be able to give in such an excessive way, I just think it feels more right this year than any other time. The Dodgers have just taken what we have built and taken it to the next level by adding so many things we couldn’t get ourselves. So it’s really awesome.”
All in all, it was another successful year for the back to school bash/giveaway. As families drove through the line, they honked their horns, smiled, and waved to show their gratitude.
Back-to-School Drive-Thru Gallery
Need more information or want to help?
For more information on Dodgers relief efforts, educational programs, and community resources, please visit Dodgers.com/Relief.
The Los Angeles Dream Center please visit www.dreamcenter.org
For more information on Kershawschallenge, please visit: www.kershawschallenge.com