Families in La Porte celebrated the near beginning of the 2019-2020 school year with a back to school party like no other at the second annual Rock the Block event. Hosted by many La Porte organizations, including American Licorice Company, the event gave students and their families a warm welcome into the new semester and provided them with free school supplies to start the year off right.
“We are so excited to be here again for another year of Rock the Block,” said Della Lyle, Community Outreach and Sustainability Specialist at American Licorice. “As a company, American Licorice is very passionate about giving back, and always tries to invest in the happiness of our people, the community, and the environment. This is such a great way for us to support our community—by supporting the young learners in La Porte.”
A highlight of the event included the free backpacks handed out by American Licorice.
“We work with the Kids in Need Foundation out of Minnesota,” Lyle said. “After donating to this organization, they order backpacks, fill them with supplies and send the supplies to us to distribute them.”
Though the event didn’t officially kick off until 3:30 p.m., the line for early access registrants wound all the way down the block by 2:45 p.m.. The massive crowd was a sign of the event’s surefire success, and it’s hard to believe that this big bash spawned from a much smaller idea.
“Originally this was just a crew of American Licorice associates that were giving backpacks to local schools,” Lyle said. “We wanted to expand our reach and donate to other children who didn’t attend the schools that received our donations, and that’s when we came up with the idea to do a back to school rally.”
The fun-filled rally featured music, games, haircuts, complimentary food and drink including hot dogs and Domino’s Pizza, and several vendor and activity tables. Among the many tents was Flagstar Bank, represented by Marlon Amaya.
“We’re new to the community here in La Porte, so we really wanted to find ways to come out and show that we are a community-based bank, get to know people, and show that we’re here to support them,” Amaya said. “We believe in the importance of helping schools through financial education and financial literacy, so a back-to-school event like this fits perfectly into that.”
Captain Brianne Karlin of The Salvation Army handed out free notebooks to everyone who stopped by her table.
“Last Saturday, we had our Stuff the Bus event where the community donated a bunch of school supplies to us, and we figured this would be the perfect place to hand them out,” Karlin said. “There’s nothing more important than starting kids off well in school—if they start off well then, most likely, they’re going to finish well.”
Students and families packed the lawn outside the La Porte Civic Auditorium, making sure to obtain everything they needed to start the school year off strong. Shelly Rahn and her family attended Rock the Block last year, and knew they had to return for the festivities this August.
“We love coming out here for the fun, checking out all the things the kids can sign up for, and, of course, the free school supplies,” Rahn said. “We have five kids, so this definitely helps us out!”
Rebecca Mabus was new to the Rock the Block scene this year and was surprised at how much the event had to offer.
“We’ve never done this before, but I heard about it through Facebook and figured we should check it out,” Mabus said. “It’s just awesome, I didn’t expect it to be this big! It’s really a great way to get the school year started. Everything is in one place and donated completely free, so that takes a lot of weight off parents’ shoulders.”
Whether families had one learner or five, Rock the Block helped the students of La Porte County get in the groove for the 2019 Fall semester. Good luck to our local scholars as they hit the books and enter another year of growth and fun.