DES MOINES, Iowa– 15 years ago a group of Drake students created a Back 2 School Bash to connect the university to its surrounding community. It’s since become a cherished annual event to help families across the metro.
Due to the pandemic, this year the Back 2 School Bash will be held as a drive thru occasion. Co-Founder of Back 2 School Iowa, Deidre DeJear, said this is not how they planned to celebrate the 15th year of this event.
“Would we have envisioned the 15th year looking like this? No. But we’ll never forget it and at the end of the day, we want to make sure that we are providing for our students and we’re standing in the gap however we can, creating a safety net so that they don’t fall through the cracks,” DeJear said.
Organizers and volunteers will be handing out 2,000 bags filled with school supplies for K through 12th grade, including PPE. There will also be technology giveaways including laptop and hotspots at each site.
One group, Mothers Against Violence, has been a part of this event for seven years. Founder of Mothers Against Violence, Calvetta Williams, said this year shows how resilient the community can be to still join forces to host this event in the middle of a pandemic.
“It shows that we all can come together, nothings stopping us from doing our part. And those kids will still get. Regardless of what’s going around in Des Moines, around the world, we’re still making it happen,” Williams said.
A volunteer for Back 2 School Iowa said one of the best parts of being involved with this event, is seeing how much it means to families.
“When you go you get to see how excited and happy the families are for having this opportunity to get the school supplies they need, especially in a time like now with COVID happening and people being impacted by different things,” Jerrica Marshall said.
At the bash, Back 2 School Iowa will collect the contact information of students to keep them connected with local organizations for access to resources and opportunities.
DeJear said Back 2 School Iowa is also in the process of making a scholarship portal with Des Moines Hack, where community organizations can post scholarships and students can apply. They’re hoping to have the site up and running by the end of the year.
“We’ve got so many amazing community partners here that are always offering scholarship opportunities, but they have limited access to the students,” DeJear said. “So we’re creating this space where the students have access to these scholarship options, and the funders have access to the students.”
The Back 2 School Bash is sponsored by Wells Fargo, Athene, Evelyn K. Davis Center, Des Moines Community College and The Director’s Council. Donors include Investing In My Future, Des Moines’ Selma, Iowa Coalition for Domestic Violence and John Deere.
This event will be held this Sunday, August 23rd, from 2-4pm. For more information on how to donate, visit Back 2 School Iowa’s website.
Below is a list of the five different locations where backpacks will be handed out this Sunday.
- Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families – Back 2 School Iowa
- Evelyn K. Davis Park – B. Well Foundation
- Eddie Davis Center – Hip Hope, Inc.
- King Park – Mother’s Against Violence
- Union Park – Project H.O.P.E.