WALKER — Bonnie Lockhart, of Walker, saw the sign posted Saturday on Walker South Road asking for donations for school uniforms and decided to stop at Leblanc’s Food Store to see what she and her family could do to help.
The Walker Police Department’s School Uniform Drive included a tour of a firetruck from the District 4 Fire Department, and a Safety House.
The Police Department also had on hand police units, so youth could get a first-hand glimpse inside the vehicle.
The main goal of Saturday’s event was to receive school uniforms and donations so needy families could send their children to school with the essentials they need to start the school year off right.
Those who donated a school uniform or money received a free hot dog and a drink.
“They wanted to come out and give donations,” Lockhart said of her three children — Austin, 6; Devin, 7; and Jason, 11.
“We always use the Assess the Need,” she said. “You come out here and give a little and you always get back.”
Assess the Need is a parish-wide school supply drive sponsored by Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor, in partnership with area businesses and media outlets. All donations received by the nonprofit campaign go to provide school supplies for children in the Livingston Parish school system who have been determined to benefit from this assistance.
For Jason, the event gave him a chance to give back to the community in which he lives.
“I want to give to my own community, and I want other kids to have the same chance as me,” Jason said.
In addition to donating to the cause, Jason and his brothers enjoyed the Safety House and learned what to do in case of a fire.
“So now y’all know what to do if there’s a fire in the house,” Bonnie Lockhart told them as they climbed through the smoke-filled trailer.
Event coordinator Cindy McMorris was hoping the seventh annual event would help give needy families a “hand up.”
While the need for school uniforms is always large, McMorris said she anticipated this year’s need for uniforms would be up from previous years. She said she expected that about 400 youth will need uniforms for the coming school year.
“We know, with the economy, we’ll probably exceed that number,” McMorris said.
Walker Police Chief Hunter Grimes was out Saturday collecting donations and greeting the public.
“It’s very important for us to do this (for the community),” Grimes said.
“The definition of a leader is a good and faithful servant,” he said. “Every person that’s a leader in their community needs to give back.”
In addition to the annual uniform drive, the Walker Police Department also sponsors Christmas for Teens and Gifts to the Elderly, he said.
“It’s important for us to help people in our community,” Grimes continued. “Our job is to help children get a proper education.”
“Some of the kids that are in these situations … it’s not their fault,” he said. “Their parents are making bad choices.”
“Or, they are in a situation they can’t control,” Grimes said. “We try to help everyone we can with any kind of help they need.”
Area resident C.A. Britt agreed.
“I have the means to do so,” Britt said about donating Saturday. “Others need the help and I don’t mind doing so.”
Britt, who has a son with a disability said he knows first-hand what it means to need help.
“I know what it’s like to need help,” Britt said. “I’ve been on both sides of the fence.”
“If I can help, I help,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Uniforms and donations can be dropped off at various sites through July 1. Donation sites include Leblanc’s, 29760 Walker South Road; Quick and Handy Cleaners, 29833 Walker South Road; the Walker Police Department, 13179 Burgess Ave.; Stine Lumber Company; 29200 Walker South Road; Walgreens, 13179 Burgess Ave.; Winn-Dixie, 28145 Walker South Road; Walker Baptist Church, 10696 Florida Blvd.
The uniforms will be distributed July 15 at Walker Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 10696 Florida Blvd.
For more information, contact the Walker Police Department at (225) 664-3125.