Organizers and volunteers of We Are All of the Above are gathering again this year at Pulaski’s Randolph Park on July 23, 3-5 p.m. to provide a free backpack giveaway to local school-age children in need.
Christiana Carter, President of the organization, founded the group along with several close friends. Their goal is to provide safe spaces for the local youth with a focus on at-risk and LGBTQIA individuals. Through Carter, and her husband and friends’ interactions with local youth, she said it is evident the amount of need that kids are experiencing in our communities.
“The founders of our group are from every different background and are super diverse. We are not all on the same page, but we have come together to show that we can all come together regardless of our backgrounds,” Carter said. “We want to say everybody is enough and you are accepted.”
The group started around Covid in 2020 with a backpack giveaway. They just ask that you bring your child with you, and they give out supplies until they run out. Last year they added hygiene products and Roanoke Pride donated socks as well.
“We had people volunteer to hand out hotdogs and bagged lunches,” Carter said. “We had around 250 people last year from around 50 people before. It was like Black Friday.”
Although the event and organization is based in Pulaski, they have had several come from neighboring communities and is open to any children in need.
“The backpack is K-12 for now, and we are strictly funded through donations, but would like to extend this to college students,” Carter said. “A lot of Christmas events are run like contests, a deserving student, or a deserving family. We want to remove the stigma of it being charity so people will feel more comfortable.”
There is a website and social media that people can go to for more information. Amazon Wish List will help people who may not be local and still want to donate. If someone has items for backpacks they wish to donate, volunteers with the organization can meet locally to pick them up. Their website also provides additional information at www.wearealltheaboveswva.com, and there is a section if you want to donate, give monetarily, or give your time. Contact information is available on the website as well.
This year the supplies will be prepacked but the children can still pick out a backpack of their choosing.
Additionally, they will have a photo station this year. People take pictures at the event, children and families eat together and it is just a special day, Carter said.
“My vision is to create a free store so children can pick out clothes shoes, etc.,” she said. “That is our end-goal of our non-profit, to have a brick-and-mortar location.”
They also envision doing resume classes for older students and college students as well to meet the needs of individuals leaving the support that the school environment provides.
All are welcome to attend and should bring their children and enjoy the community event.