Our weekly roundup of Toasts & Roasts:
A toast to all the individuals, businesses church groups, organizations and school districts that worked together to provide school supplies, backpacks, clothing and shoes to students heading back to class. Saturday’s ninth annual Back to School Bonanza at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center was hosted by the Junior League of Lufkin, which was attempting ‘‘to meet most of the necessities to get every child ready to go back to school and have a head start,’’ according to 2019 JLL Bonanza chair Robin Alderman. Volunteers gave away 2,800 age-appropriate backpacks. Stations also were set up for the students to get check-ups, lice checks, uniforms and shoes. Diboll’s Back to School Bash also took place Saturday. Christie Stephens, children’s director at Diboll’s First Methodist Church and a teacher for the school district, said 350 participated in the event. That’s the largest turnout since the event began in 2004, she said. “I saw that the kids needed supplies. We’re a title school — that means we’re a low income area, so we just wanted to help our kids.” There were tables for parents to register their students for Diboll schools, a table full of free, gently-used clothes and shoes and there also were free haircuts offered. Southern Roots Salon & Co. had two stylists there, and Andre Emmons, Diboll High School’s assistant principal, also was cutting hair. Emmons said he wants to take advantage of ‘‘any chance I get to give back to the community.’’ He said cutting hair was how he earned extra money to get through college. The Outreach Dream Team at Timber Creek Church gave away backpacks to 600 students at its annual event following church services on Aug. 4. Huntington ISD also announced their intention to provide school supplies for students this year. “This was a decision our district made to help our families,” Superintendent David Flowers said. “We were able to budget for these supplies, and our campus principals have ordered for their respective campuses.” We’re thankful for the efforts of all involved for choosing to make a difference in the lives of Anelina County’s children.
New teachers in the Lufkin school district also got some help starting off the new school year thanks to the Lufkin Education Foundation. The foundation gave 36 new LISD teachers $100 to purchase much-needed school supplies for the coming year during the annual New Teacher Luncheon. Vercie McMullen, executive director of the foundation, said it can be tough getting started during that first year of teaching. “Often times, teachers coming in don’t have a lot of resources,’’ she said. ‘‘There are so many things they need to purchase.’’ McMullen said the grant money came from several community organizations and businesses.
Finally, we welcome Aaron Ramsey back as director of the Kurth Memorial Animal Shelter. Ramsey returned to the United States at the end of June after serving a year on active duty with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. At the same time, we need to say thanks to Paula Taylor, assistant director at the shelter, for serving as the interim director during Ramsey’s absence. Ramsey said his first goal is to revamp all the animal-related city ordinances. Many of those ordinances are outdated, he said, dating as far back as the 1970s. At the same time, he’s working with other shelters across the state to see what their cities have done to improve the quality of life for their animals and to reduce the number of stray animals. Both of those are problems in this community, where far too many people show a callous disregard for our four-legged friends — dumping them on lonely stretches of road when they become too great a burden.
Editor’s note: Is there a person or organization you’d like to nominate for either a Toast or a Roast due to a recent accomplishment, event or incident? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 631-2618. You can also contact us anonymously through our online news tip page at lufkindailynews.com/tips.