TALLADEGA -- Just like that, another summer has almost gone; the new school year is almost upon us. But before the kids head off to class, there is one more late-summer event yet to come: the annual Back To School Party in Edythe Sims Memorial Park.
This year’s party will be Saturday, Aug. 16, from 3 p.m. until everything is gone. There will be music, three-on-three basketball, rope-pull, softball and free hotdogs, drinks, chips and ice cream. Of course, there will also be free school supplies for all young scholars from pre-school to college. The event is sponsored by the Knoxville Community, and, as he has for the past dozen years, Eddie Duncan is leading the effort.
Duncan said he first became involved in the annual event as a member of the Knoxville Improvement Association. He headed up the event one year, then thought he was passing the responsibility on to someone else.
“Only no one else was doing it after that,” he said. “About five years later, a little boy asked me about it, and I was surprised. I just got up, started working, and got done what it takes to get it done.”
Naturally, he’s not doing it alone, he said. People donate all sorts of school supplies, as well as the food, drinks and music. In fact, donations of cash and school supplies are still being accepted, and this weekend there will be roadblocks on the Courthouse Square, Six Points, and the intersection of Avenue H and Knox Street to raise funds. It's also tax-free weekend for school supplies.
“We want to get as much as we can, and we will stay until everything is given away, first come, first served,” Duncan said.
In the past, students have come not only from the Knoxville Community and around Talladega, but also from Sylacauga, Ashland and Lineville as well. Duncan said he doesn’t really have any way of knowing how many people will show up, but he is going to be cooking 1,000 hot dogs and hoping that's enough.
And although the fun and school supplies will be the main draws, there will be a lot of other things going on, too. “We’ll start with a prayer, then have a speaker,” Duncan said. “We’ll have people signing folks up to vote, and giving flu shots. The NAACP will be there, and will be people from Anniston handing out flyers.”
A couple of weeks out from the party, Duncan’s home is already beginning to fill up with cases of paper (wide- and college-rule), boxes of pens and pencils and pallets full of pencil boxes. “And we’ll be giving every bit of it away.” He estimates that between his purchases and donations, there must be at least $5,000 worth of back-to-school merchandise ready to be given away.
“It just comes in,” he said. “God uses us, and it just happens. I remember one year, we didn’t have a whole lot to give away at first, but it just kept coming. It just happened, and that’s why we keep doing it.”
For more information or to make a donation, please call 256-362-4757.
Contact Chris Norwood at firstname.lastname@example.org.