The City of La Porte and American Licorice Company with the help of many other sponsors held the second annual Rock the Block on August 8 outside the Civic Auditorium. The community collaboration included over 30 sponsors that donated their time and craft to the celebration. The focus of the event is to enrich the educational experience of students in the area by donating various supplies essential for their yearlong success. Rock the Block also acts as a relief for some of the financial burdens parents may face around this time of year.
The line for the event wrapped around the block and continued to grow. Upon entering, students were given a “passport” to get stamped at the various sponsor booths. The attractions ranged everywhere from complimentary haircuts at Generations Hair Cuttery to free Domino's Pizza.
1,600 people signed up online; however, up to 3,000 participants were expected to attend.
Steve Walters, the Economist and Community Manager at American Licorice Company, spoke about the initial collaboration that kick-started the event last year.
“Last year we had a grand vision to do this for the community but didn’t really know how to make it happen,” Walters said. “I knew we had the financial means to provide the backpacks, but I didn't know how to create an event of this capacity. We reached out to a few La Porte community organizations, such as the La Porte Jaycees and Bethany Lutheran Church. From there, we created an advisory board and continued to grow.”
Walters listed some of the appeals Rock the Block provides.
“There is no charge for anything here,” Walters said. “Each student will get a backpack full of supplies, candy, a T-Shirt and other donations. Plus, Bethany Church brought their food truck, Dominoes is here, and there’s even a DJ!”
Additionally, Salvation Army, The Pax Center, Dunebrook, Inc., Girl Scouts, Horizon Bank, and Generations Salon were some of the many sponsors that supported the event. The salon shut down business for the entire day to donate their time and talent to the festivity.
While watching her son get his hair cut, Donna Burkhart explained how this event benefits both children and parents.
“This event is crucial because there are so many parents out there that can’t afford all the school supplies that are needed,” Burkhart said. “It may not be everything we need, but it is a great start. The students get to see that the community comes together for the betterment of everyone.”
Sonia Kincaid, a social support worker for Dunebrook, Inc., was handing out brand new books to students.
“As part of our literacy program, we donate books to families and are supported by great donations to do this,” Kincaid said. “It’s so important to get children reading. We are donating 1,000 books today.”
Brittney McWherter attended Rock the Block for the second time with her son.
“I think this brings the community together and lets them know that anytime you might need something, the community has your back,” McWherter said. “Nowadays, that’s exactly what you need. You want to know that you’re safe in the community, and know that your kids have everything they need.”
Hundreds of students greeted each other with smiles and hugs after a long summer hiatus.
Grace Foglesong, a student at Kesling Middle School, embraced an old friend that she had just reconnected with.
“I get to see some of my friends that I haven’t seen all summer,” Foglesong said. “I love this event because I get so many free supplies for school—and food!”
Rock the Block promotes the idea that when a community unites, dreams can come true—even if that dream is as simple as a backpack or supplies for school.
“I think there is an economic need here in La Porte,” Walters said. “It’s important for the students to start school on the right foot, and we are providing them the tools to succeed.”
If you are interested in this form of community outreach or would like to become a sponsor for next year’s Rock the Block, visit https://www.rocktheblocklaporte.com/sponsorship.
Thank you to the following sponsors for 2018: American Licorice Company, The La Porte Jaycees, Bethany Church and Door Village Church