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Phalanx Family Services hosted its 9th Annual Back-to-School Event on one of the most beautiful weather days of the year. Cook County 5th District Commissioner Deborah Sims supported this year’s free community event.
There was tons of free food offered by Beggar’s Pizza, Barbeque by the fraternity brothers of Omega Psi Phi, fan-favorite Harold’s Chicken, and more.
Children and adults enjoyed numerous rides and games, including a bouncy house, pony rides, petting zoo, game truck, basketball, rock climb, and kiddie foam spot, which was a particular hit with the youngest guests.
Entertainment included the live streaming talent of Power92’s Ricky rampage. Additionally, everyone enjoyed live music from the spectacular Jesse White Tumblers, with a surprise appearance by the founder himself, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. Rounding out the lineup included the Ultimate Dance Threat Co. youth troupe, New Renaissance Band 2.0, and DJing from Phalanx’s very own Steve Hodges.
There were tons of free giveaways: 1,000 goodie bags filled with water bottles, knickknacks, resource information, and other novelties, 1,000 school supply kits, and hundreds of packages of pampers. Thank you to all the vendors who were generous with the donations, and a special shout-out to the team who assembled all those goodie bags; it was not an easy task in the least!
The 9th Annual Back-to-School Event’s corporate and private sector exhibitors included the Blue Cross/Blue Shield – CareVan, ComEd, SafeLink, and others. In addition, the Chicago Department of Public Health, and personnel representing the Cook County Sheriff’s Department and the Circuit Court of Cook County, were present to engage and educate visitors about their services.
On hand to spread the word about their programs and resources were education, nonprofit, and community-based exhibitors such as Excel Academies, Ombudsman, Olive-Harvey College, Kroc Center, Family Rescue, Council on Black Health, and others.
The CityKey portion of the event also had a large turnout, with over 120 individuals receiving new city-issued identification cards on-site.
Phalanx Family Services was delighted to have the presence and support of such funders as Cook County 5th District Commissioner Deborah Sims, who announced her retirement and replacement, Monica Gordon. In addition, Evelyn Benitez of the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS) dug in and helped as a distribution volunteer. Also present were Buddy Bear Carwash and others. A special mention of Old Veteran Construction, Inc., a Far South locally-owned enterprise that supported this event, and Community Activist, Andrew Holmes, who also appeared.
We recognize all the staff who were involved in any and every way, as so much went into putting this together in the hours, days, and weeks leading up to the actual event. A special shout-out to the Youth Resilient team, who placed over 100-yard signs advertising the event. They covered several square miles of the Far South community and played a security role on the big day.
A very special note of recognition for the corps of volunteers from Northwestern University, who also helped significantly at this enormous event.
Emerging journalistic talent from The News School was present to record the event’s photographic, video, and sound documentation.
Kudos to the spearhead team largely responsible for organizing the event, including Phalanx Family Services CEO Tina Sanders, Phalanx Family Services Director of Operations Laura Erving-Bailey, and Event Planning Consultant Ed Okennard.
There was absolutely something for the entire family. From the family at Phalanx to the families and community residents we serve; supporters in the corporate, public, nonprofit, and private sectors; and dignitaries and public officials, with the biggest turnout ever, the entire community came together to make this year’s Back-to-School event an unqualified success!
Contributed by Ramone Giles
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Back-to-School Event Images Courtesy of Ramone Giles – Used With Permission