A community came together to make sure every child in its neighborhood was prepared for the first day of school.
The Porters Community Neighborhood Organization hosted the 8th annual Porters Summer Block Party in the Porters Quarters neighborhood located in southwest Gainesville on Saturday.
Gainesville City Commissioner Gigi Simmons, who represents District 1, loves how much the event has grown since its inception in 2011.
“It was a need,” Simmons said. “Every year people look forward to it. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s so worthwhile when you see the kids smile.”
Simmons remembered preparing to give away school supplies for the neighborhood in her living room with her sons, and her mother and sister preparing the food on the grill a few years ago.
The block party has now grown to 20 volunteers and multiple donations from the community.
The United Way of North Central Florida provided 300 books and different organizations across Gainesville helped provide 150 backpacks.
Simmons said the main reason she created the block party was to bring a relief to parents’ pocketbooks.
“I know what it’s like to pay for supplies, especially if you have more than one,” Simmons said.
Those who attended the event had the opportunity to check out different resources in the city.
The vendors at the block party were Rebuilding Together, Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office, Santa Fe College, city Of Gainesville Code Enforcement and Office of Equal Opportunity departments, Three Rivers Legal Services and CareerSource North Central Florida.
“We want to make sure we provide the best atmosphere for families,” Simmons said. “That’s why we had vendors out here — so they know the resources we have.”
Tarcha Rentz, Ph.D., attended the event with her 12-year-old daughter and she appreciated Simmons’ efforts to make sure every child in Porters Quarters was prepared for school.
“Her heart and passion has been in the community for many years,” Rentz said. “It’s important to make sure they have what they need to perform at the best of their ability.”
Children in the neighborhood had the opportunity to enjoy themselves with a bounce house, a train ride, face painting and balloon animals.
“It’s amazing that all of us can come together as a community,” Rentz said.
Philip Thomas, a local singer, gave solo performances of songs from the Isley Brothers and Musiq Soulchild.
Zion Soldierz, a non-profit organization, donated $100 dollars to the Porters Community Neighborhood Organization and NCF Diagnostics and DNA Technologies donated chromebooks to the computer lab at the Porters Community Center.
“My job is to show them that nothing is impossible and to show them their purpose and build on it,” said Adrian Harper, founder and CEO of NCF Diagnostics and DNA Technologies.
Simmons appreciated the donations and the community’s effort to make this year’s block party a success.
“We had a common goal that the kids should be properly prepared for school,” Simmons said. “Understanding what community means and being a part of it is so special."