Joint effort: Inaugural Back-to-School Supply Giveaway held at North Iberville Community Center

A family exits the North Iberville Community Center with bags of school supplies following a Back-to-School Supply Giveaway on Saturday afternoon. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

ROSEDALE – The United Community of North Iberville, a collaboration of organizations and businesses, held its inaugural Back-to-School Supply Giveaway to serve the communities of Maringouin, Rosedale and Grosse Tete at the North Iberville Community Center on Saturday.

"This is the first time this has ever been done but it is not going to be the last," Maringouin Mayor John F. Overton Sr. said. "We are looking forward to doing it again even bigger and better."

"We had a lot of organizations participate. There were so many people that volunteered. It was a joint effort through networking and it was a success. In the times we are living in, it is real tough on everybody. We might not have given all they needed but we gave enough to get them started."

Overton estimated over 450 bags of school supplies were handed out.

The event was spearheaded by the Thomas A. Levy Class of 1964, which began planning in April.

"We were just going to do it by ourselves and then we decided to combine some other organizations in our community in a united effort," committee member G. Theresa Ellis Jackson said.

Thomas A. Levy existed as a segregated school in Rosedale from 1953-1970. Upon integration, students began attending Shady Grove until it was later renamed North Iberville.

"We were the nucleus but we knew we couldn't do it by ourselves," president and East Baton Rouge Parish Constable Major Reginald Brown said. "We came together united."

Southern University senior recruiter Robert Lane Rene` presented information to students and their parents about higher education and the importance of taking core courses and Standardized Tests.

"This is a unique opportunity," Rene` said. "We want to get students prepared to go to college so we can admit them. Where you go to college and how you make up your mind is a family decision and there were just so many people with very good questions. It makes you a sound citizen."

The Krewe of Maringuoin, a Mardi Gras carnival organization, helped provide school uniforms. The group recycled old uniforms and purchased 66 gift cards to Young Fashions.

"We committed to help in every aspect," Krewe president Verbie Parker said. "It is about the children and their needs."

Overton said Union Pacific helped acquire a $5,000 grant and support came from Cox Communications, Sam's Club, Dow Chemical, Iberville Parish Council, Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office, American Legion Post 580, Knight of Peter Claver, Divine Ladies Association and Masonic Lodge as well as police and fire departments of all three municipalities. The Hurricanes of New Orleans led by Kevin Wendell Jackson provided cooking.

North Iberville High School closed its doors in 2009 and now students from the northern area of the parish are bused to Plaquemine Senior High School.

"I don't think it is the best thing for the community," Overton said. "I think this effort unites the community and who knows what will come of it - maybe the re-establishment of a high school in this community."

Brown agreed.

"I feel that our school should have never been closed but what is done is done," Brown said. "Our kids are being bused 40 miles away and it is a lot of stress on them. We hope and pray one day that there will be a change of heart but we are still going to do for our children no matter what."