RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wide eyed children smiled as they entered a room inside the Chavis Community Center on Saturday. Row after row of brightly colored backpacks filled with school supplies were provided by the men of Omega Psi Phi at the Community Resource Fair.
As those kids and their parents received their backpacks, Deborah Bryant made slow progress towards the men who provided the timely gifts. Bryant, the grandmother of a student who was too ill to attend the fair himself, was masked for safety among the crowd. She used a walker as she selected a backpack for her grandson, who is recovering at home, to use when traditional calendar classes resume.
"My family is struggling right now," she said. "This helps so much. I am so glad to have his backpack, and the supplies that are inside!"
The fraternity brothers at Omega Psi Phi organized fundraisers that helped to cover the costs of the free backpacks and school supplies.
"You have to continue your education, and we talk about how important education is," said Patrick Curry. "So, we don't even see that we're giving away a bookbag and supplies. We're giving away access to education!"
Vielka Maria Gabriel, program specialist for Wake County, talked about more available opportunities for students.
"Wake County Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth is here. And we have other youth enrichment programs, such as the YMCA. And most of these groups are here to also offer mentorship to help the young people see it's not about that quick job now," she said. "What about that career path that you're headed for? In our fire department, 20 years and you're retired. Working 10 days a month. So, a lot of times we hear about these jobs and often in our community, we don't see ourselves in those positions."
Caregivers like Bryant, who checked out many of the recruitment tables, appreciate the organization of the fair.
"We are really having a hard time. They say we're not in a recession, but I think we are. The supermarket prices are high, it's time for the children to go back to school. The parents and the grandparents, we're all doing all that we can to get the children ready," she said.