Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011 | 1:47 p.m.
I’m not sure why it surprises me anymore — the sheer amount of need in our community, and the tireless work of some to try to meet it.
With school beginning Monday, 500 kids and their families stand in a line that curls outside Robert E. Price Community Center and into the hot sun, waiting to receive free backpacks and school supplies.
Zetta Toombs has her three children and a family friend in tow, ages 6, 7, 9 and 13.
They moved here eight months ago from Rock Island, Ill., to join family — yes, I too question the wisdom of moving into this terrible job market, but family is family, after all.
Toombs, a certified nursing assistant, found a job about a month ago with help from the state’s JobConnect. She says her mom warned her that she would have to persistent, and she was.
She just spent more than $100 on school uniforms, so this school supply fair is a big help.
“It helps. It helps a lot,” she says over the sound of the hip-hop DJ. Hot dogs are cooking outside the northeast valley community center.
Her son Dayveon, 9, has a backpack filled with with a ruler and pens and a pencil holder and a notebook. He likes bugs, snakes and sharks and wants to be what he calls a “snake hunter.” Go for it, Dayveon.
The fair is sponsored by WalMart and NV Energy, among others, and organized by Assemblyman Steven Brooks, a Democrat. It doubles as a thinly veiled campaign event, but who can begrudge him a few votes for putting this together.
The school supplies are good for these families but also their teachers, who often spend thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to supply children with materials.
Still, as Brooks says, “It’s just a small dent. The recession has hit good families, and this is a way for us to give back to the community for everything it’s done for us.”
The only downer of the event: Why on earth has the Dollar Loan Center been given a table to hand out its logo-emblazoned pens and “koozies,” which are foam cylinders usually associated with keeping beer cold and are most definitely not school supplies?
Payday lenders such as this charge usurious interest rates and huge fees, trapping our poorest neighbors in a cycle of debt. Dollar Loan’s Web address, www.dontbebroke.com, is an unfunny joke.
But let’s not let that small miscue mar an otherwise good event. Kudos to Brooks and the sponsors.