NewsLocal News


KCMO back-to-school giveaway helps bridge digital divide

Hundreds of cars pack Swope Park on Saturday
Backpack giveaway 1.jpg
Back to school giveaway 2.jpg
Back to school giveaway 3.jpg
Posted at 3:20 PM, Aug 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-29 18:23:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Back-to-school events are different this year in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Not only are many people out of jobs, but most school districts are starting the year virtually.

That being the case, thousands of people picked up school supplies Saturday at Swope Park, while staying in their cars.

The line snaked around the park with an army of volunteers at various tents giving away food, hand sanitizer, masks, backpacks, internet hotspots and even COVID-19 testing.

Kansas City, Missouri, Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw organized the event, which she said shows "how great the need" is in the city.

"Unfortunately, the pandemic has really showed us how there’s a digital equity issue here in Kansas City," she said. "It has created challenges for our teachers, for our students for our families and our schools and we are seeking to try to provide support to all of those things and we are doing everything out here today, in the rain."

David Butler was one of the man volunteers who helped hand out items on Saturday.

"With the coronavirus going on, most people, unfortunately, [are] not working or anything," Butler said. "So if I can be able to provide them backpacks to help the city councilwoman, I’m glad to be able to do that."

It's supplies that otherwise many couldn't afford, as some in the line, like Frankie George, were financially affected by COVID-19.

"I’m keeping them (my kids) at home," George said, "so it helps out a tremendous amount, especially being out of work and everything, it's just so crazy."

Maxine Richards, who also attended the giveaway, said the event helped ease the stress of returning to school amid the pandemic.

"Kids being at home is very much stressful, really, with all the extra expenses of having them at home, so this is very much appreciated" Richards said.

According to Parks-Shaw, the event was made possible by:

  • Giving Hope and Help Inc.
  • Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas.
  • Connecting for Good -PC’s for People.
  • Laborers Local 264.
  • Teamsters Local 41.
  • National Congress of Black Women.
  • Operation G.R.O.W.
  • Team Rubicon.
  • Jewish Family Services.
  • Harvesters-The Community Food Network.
  • Kansas City Parks and Recreation.
  • Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center.
  • Turn the Page KC.
  • Carter Broadcast Group.
  • Grandparents Against Gun Violence.
  • Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council.
  • IBEW 53.
  • LISC.
  • KC Fine Lines.
  • Perry Whitmore.
  • Community Builders of Kansas City.
  • Blue Parkway Sunfresh.
  • Swope Health.
  • Bennett Packaging.
  • the City of Kansas City, Missouri, UrbanKCore.
  • U.S. Toy.
  • Mychal Shaw Media & Marketing.