Parents wait hours for free school supplies

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Organizers of a school supply giveaway said they had parents in line for three hours before the event began. The Hope Community Development Agency and Coastal Women For Change gave away hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies in Biloxi. Parents said that helping their kids start off the school year right was worth the wait.

The line for free school supplies kept growing and growing. Despite the heat, parents and children patiently waited for some small relief in this weak economy.

Eboni McClain of Long Beach said, "Not working as many hours at work and having troubles like paying bills and stuff, it helps to have opportunities like this to get stuff to help the kids."

"This means a lot to my family with all the recession and everything going on," said Lashunda Johnson of Gautier.

Organizers passed out 500 backpacks at the Back To School Celebration at John Henry Beck Park in Biloxi on Saturday.

Bill Stallworth of the Hope Community Development Agency said, "We're giving away book bags that are packed full of school supplies: crayons, filler paper, pens, pencils, compasses. Everything that a child needs to have for their appropriate grade. We're passing out those book bags, and we also went out and got special book bags for those districts like in D'Iberville that require clear plastic book bags."

While many basic supplies can be relatively cheap, parents said it's all the extras that many schools are asking that's creating the financial strain for families.

"A lot of expense," said Johnson. "They're asking for stuff like things with the computer and computer paper and everything, so yes it would have been a lot. So this really helps."

Kristi Calloway said buying the extra supplies for her children's gifted classes gets expensive very quickly. Now she won't have to spend as much on the basics.

"It helps out a lot because then the kids don't go to school feeling like they don't have what the other kids have," said Calloway. "That's what hurts you as a parent."

The kids appreciate the help, too. Shikeria Terell is soon to be a ninth grader.

"I can learn more with all my school supplies," said Shikeria.

After the giveaway, the Back To School Celebration continued with music, food and games.

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