Councilman Jones and staff celebrate start of school with backpack giveaway in Roxborough

The staff of Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. tapped into the back-to-school spirit on Monday with a school supply giveaway.

For the fifth consecutive year, students at elementary schools throughout Jones’ district were eligible to receive backpacks stuffed with supplies distributed through his district offices. Jones had two giveaway events on Monday – one in Wynnefield, and one at his recently-opened Roxborough office.

In Roxborough, 125 backpacks, teeming with notebooks, pencils, and pens, were ready for dispersal to students from Mifflin, Cook-Wissahickon, AMY Northwest, and Dobson Elementary schools, along with Rhodes Middle School. According to Jones staff, no criteria were set in place for distribution of the bags; decisions were left up to school principals.

“Councilman Jones is proud to continue his tradition of giving away school supplies to kids from neighborhood schools,” said Josh Cohen, special assistant to the councilman. “It’s essential that kids have the basics so that they can be successful in school, and we want to help in that regard.”

School supplies and pizza 

Families from across the Northwest stopped by on Monday to pick up their bags and perhaps grab a slice of tomato pie donated by Tony Roni’s Pizza.Martina Rodriguez, a third-grader at Mifflin Elementary School, headed directly for the backpacks, quickly choosing a pink bag with stripes. “I liked the colors,” she explained.

Chloe Cantiello, a second-grader at Cook-Wissahickon, chose one bedazzled with peace logos. “My friend has one,” she said, “and I want to have the same thing as my friend.”

Chloe’s mother, Tina Carr, suggested that there was something deeper at play. “She’s non-confrontational and ever peaceful,” said Carr of her daughter. “Everyone gets along with her.”

Naliyah Robertson, an eighth-grader from AMY Northwest, let her mother Sharonda pick out a solid green book bag for her. “I’ll pick one out the next time,” she joked, “and I’ll get the expensive one.”

Reaching out to the rest of the community 

As of 6 p.m. on Monday evening, almost 50 were given away. The remainder will be given to principals at the schools for distribution to students.Leslie Mason, principal at Mifflin Elementary, stopped by to thank Jones’ staffers for their generosity. She was a bit weary from the first full day back at school – where she presented the backpacks as a reward for students – but praised Jones for his efforts.

“If you need him, he comes through,” she said. “There are so many kids that need assistance.”

Jones was unable to attend both giveaways because of a scheduling conflict but a release from his office stated that “Councilman Jones is honored to serve Philadelphia and each year finds it beyond rewarding to support the future leaders of this great City through his annual school give-away.” 

The email goes on to say that Jones is thankful for the support of the event’s sponsors: Brown’s ShopRite, Rita’s of Roxborough, Tony Roni’s Pizza, S.C. Main Street Associations, The Bayou Bar and Grill, Richards Apex Inc., Manayunk Sport and Social Club, Cactus Restaurant and Bar and Tony Casselli. 

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