From free backpacks filled with school supplies to nutrition and safety information, Mothers In Action (MIA), the stalwart community group, held its 24th annual Back to School Health Fair on August 13, at Exposition Park.
“I can’t believe this is our 24th year, and it was great to see the smiling faces of so many parents and kids as they excitedly opened their backpacks filled with much-needed school supplies. It is not only our way of giving back but also a great way to connect with kids in our community, ensuring that their school year gets off to a great start,” said Tracy Mitchell, president of MIA.
With COVID safety as the backdrop, this year’s fair continued its practice as a drive-through event for school children ages 5-18, who received fully loaded backpacks, dental kits, USC lunch packs, nutrition and safety coloring books, water bottles, COVID home test kits, PPE supplies, feminine products, and other donations. In addition to the hundreds of families served at Exposition Park, MIA distributed 100 backpacks to the First AME Church Foster Care Program in honor of the organization’s late founder and CEO, Brenda Marsh-Mitchell and another 600 to other partner groups.
Marsh-Mitchell, a warrior for the community she served and loved for over 25 years, believed that “children failed because they are not healthy or do not have the tools, they need to start a successful school year. There is no service we provide to our community more important than making sure our young people have all the necessary tools and equipment they will need to secure quality education.”
Along with Lillian Mobley and State Senator Rod Wright (ret.), Marsh-Mitchell, a product herself of the foster care system, dreamed of providing continuous health care, school supplies, and immunizations to as many kids as possible. This year’s event served over 1,500 students, and all supplies and services were provided at no cost, just as Marsh-Mitchell envisioned.
“Because of you, over 300 foster youth received backpacks filled with supplies, and more importantly, love. We appreciate your kindness; your consideration and we thank God for you. May you receive twice the joy that you give to so many others,” said Jackie Houston-McNeal, chair of F.A.M.E. Foster Care/ Adoption Committee.
Yvonne Wheeler and Fabian Wesson, chairs of this year’s event, applauded the tremendous efforts of the many sponsors, community partners, and volunteers. Danny Bakewell Sr., Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Councilmembers Curren Price, Herb Wesson and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and LAUSD School board member (District 1) Dr. George McKenna III served as co-chairs and helped distribute supplies and provided words of encouragement to students and their parents.
The California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles Police Department donated bicycle helmets, coloring books on safety, sunglasses, bike lights, and reflective slap bracelets for bike riders. L.A. County’s Delete the Digital Divide provided information on eligibility for free or reduced-cost Wi-Fi connectivity and bandwidth, paid internships, and tech educational opportunities.
“There was something for everyone,” said MIA president Mitchell, who added that every family received a food box with non-perishable goods provided by the Good Provider Foodbank of Southern California operated by Jeanne Cooper.
“Every year, I get emotional thinking of my mother’s vision to provide for kids in need. We can continue her vision through the wonderful support we receive yearly from our sponsors and community partners.
“Words are not enough to thank our village of partners, individual donors, MIA and Sentinel staff, and community volunteers, but on behalf of my family, I will continue to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. The success of Mothers in Action would not be possible without God’s favor and the kindness of our village. We are #strongertogether, and it does #takeavillage indeed,” Mitchell said.
Sponsors of the Mothers In Action 24th Annual Back to School event were: Bakewell Media, Los Angeles Sentinel, Taste of Soul, LA Watts Times, Brotherhood Crusade, Council Districts 8, 9, and 10, The Cochran Firm of California, Sandra Evers Manly, Destination Crenshaw, Kaiser Permanente, Metro, Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation, RFP Insurance, USC, Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation, The Children’s Dental Fun Zone, The District by G/S, Black Health Matters, New Frontier Democratic Club, Community Build, and The Good Provider Foodbank of Southern California
Community partners were: Event Chair Fabian Wesson, Co-Chair Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., California Highway Patrol (CHP), PAVA World, Explorer 1 Ambulance, and Delete the Digital Divide, and employees of Bank of America, Blue Shield, Irvine Volunteer Association, LAPD Southwest Division, LA Sanitation, LAHSA, office of Exposition, Chase Bank, LA County Child Lead Poisoning, Mothers Nutritional, LA Conservation Corps, CRCD, Oliver Buie, Self-Help Credit Union, KBLA, 211, DPSS Cal Fresh, USC Asthma, LA Football Club (LAFC), Volunteers of America, City National Bank, and Banc of California.
To donate to or volunteer with Mothers in Action, email [email protected]