School families brave heat for Anniston back-to-school event

·3 min read

Jul. 24—Cailee Chaffin, an Anniston police officer, spent part of her Saturday morning shooting hoops with a bunch of kids at Nettles Park at the Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) back-to-school event.

A chance for area kids to have a bash before the start of school during the first week of August, the event featured free food and ice cream, school supplies, backpacks, music, vendors and fun.

After the basketball game the kids surrounded Chaffin as she told them about her job and posed for photos for assorted parents.

"I love playing with the kids, that's part of the job, that's one of my favorite things to do," said Chaffin.

"I'm actually on patrol today, the call volume is low so I wanted to step out with the kiddos for a little bit," she said.

Anniston City Schools had a food distribution table set under a shade tree with provisions for five days of meals.

Anniston High School child nutrition manager Charmonique Young, seven school employees and three volunteers were busy handing out brown paper bags full of food.

By mid-morning Young said that business was wonderful.

"We serviced about 75 children so far and we're looking to do about another 75," said Young.

Young said the giveaway felt fabulous. "When you're hungry you cannot learn but when you are fed you can focus," she said.

Ward 3 Anniston Councilwoman Ciara Smith was busy taking in the carnival-like atmosphere as kids scurried trying to eat their ice cream and frozen treats before the July heat melted them clean away.

Smith was glad that so many nonprofits had joined together to create the back-to-school bash on a day when other community events were taking place.

"I think it's always a blessing, all day today I've been out with the community — this morning we did the Anniston changers event where we did community service outside of Anniston High School, after that I looked at the future Freedom Riders institute building," Smith said.

"So now I'm out here seeing all the kids, it's just good to see so many different events that are going throughout the community in one day alone, so you always have something to do."

Tekeisha Goggins, mental health counselor with Jacksonville State University counseling services, was answering questions and handing out various trinkets.

Goggins said her role was to tell parents and older students what the university offered along the lines of student support.

Goggins, like everyone else in attendance, was enjoying the event despite the heat.

"It's gone pretty good, very hot but it's been very, very productive," Goggins said. "It's awesome to see these kids out here and it's awesome that these kids are getting backpacks ... I'm so glad to see that."

Destiny Parchman and her daughter, Olivia, 8, were on their way to stand in line to get free hamburgers and hot dogs.

Parchman said the event was really good and Olivia — who will be starting first grade at Kitty Stone Elementary in Jacksonville — was having a great time.

"It's a really good thing, I think it's nice for the kids, everyone is enjoying themselves on this pretty Saturday, I think it's nice," Parchman said.

"It's a beautiful day," Olivia added.

Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.

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