WALKER — It didn’t take Emily Harrell long to find school uniforms Friday for her three children, Sydney Harrell, 6; Amaya Lacy, 5; and Taniya Lacy, 3.
The Seventh annual School Uniform Drive, “From Our Uniform to Yours,” sponsored by the Walker Police Department, made it easy, she said.
As she walked out of Walker Baptist Church, Harrell seemed relieved that her children are now prepared to start the school year with proper uniforms.
“We came out to get help with uniforms,” Harrell said.
“I’m not working,” Harrell continued. “I’m getting ready to start school when they do.”
With three children, Harrell said she needs “all the help I can get.”
“It is a very, very big help,” she said.
The annual school uniform drive drew hundreds of people to the church in Walker, many of whom lined up before the 10 a.m. distribution start time.
While the drive was scheduled until 2 p.m., Police Chief Hunter Grimes said those helping distribute the uniforms would be at the church until they completely ran out of uniforms.
“It’s like a big garage sale,” Grimes said, of the numerous tables containing uniforms scattered throughout the area.
Those who came to the event were allowed to search through the uniforms and find their child’s size before “checking out.”
The uniforms were free — no more than two per child — but volunteers running the operation checked to make sure each child had what they needed to complete their uniform. Those who weren’t able to find the right size or a complete uniform will be given a voucher to be used at School Days uniforms in Walker, Grimes said.
Grimes said the annual event is important to the community, and he is just glad “to bless people when times are tough.”
Uniform donations have been low this year, Grimes said, however, monetary donations were up.
“God’s always going to provide one way or another,” he said.
Grimes said his department uses the extra money to provide additional uniforms to needy students throughout the year. Grimes said when a student needs a replacement uniform because of a disaster such as a fire, the department works with Wal-Mart to provide the uniform and they go shopping with the family.
Barbara Dugan came to the uniform drive with her granddaughter Booklin Conrad, 9.
“It’s really great,” Dugan said of the drive. “Everything is so expensive. You can’t afford nothing anymore.”
“Prices are going sky high,” Dugan said. “You got to scrape to get by these days.”
As Dugan looked through the uniforms, across the room, Jennifer Clayton gathered up her eight children and headed to the checkout line.
“We take all donations,” Clayton said. “Food, clothes, coupons. …”
“When you have a big family, you need to know how to get by,” she said.
Also at the event was a representative from the state of Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program, or LaCHIP.
Sharon Haydel was there to help inform families about the no-cost health insurance.
“Most of the ones (families) I’m seeing have it already,” Haydel said. “But we know that there are still lots of children in the state without health insurance.”
Several area businesses helped sponsor this year’s event, which Grimes said would not have been possible without their help.