The Hillsboro Police Department distributed 145 backpacks and raffled 13 bicycles at their 22nd Annual Back-to-School Drive Saturday, according to Hillsboro Police Chief Michael Taylor.
Taylor said the annual giveaway started about 22 years ago when he began funding a bicycle giveaway in the community at the start of each school year.
“I funded the event myself in the beginning. We gave 50 to 65 bicycles away and held a bicycle safety program at the start of each school year,” said Taylor. “We decided to expand and give away school supplies to reach more kids in the community. I realized there were lots of kids being left out, and we wanted to make sure no kid gets left behind.”
This year, children from Hillsboro, Courtland, Moulton, Decatur and surrounding areas gathered at Hillsboro Park for a final summer bash and the school supply giveaway.
Taylor explained that each backpack was packed with basic school necessities each child will be able to use this school year. He said the drive benefits local school-aged children from grades kindergarten up to the 12th grade.
“We’re very grateful for the support from our community,” he said. “We had another successful year thanks to the help and support from Encompass and Design, AKA Sorority, the Hillsboro Fire Department, our Town Council and mayor, and local businesses and volunteering citizens.”
About four years ago, the Kentucky-based company, Encompass Develop Design and Construct came on board for the drive. Taylor said he was working in a security position for the company when Encompass employee Todd Sandler heard about the drive and passed the information along to the owner, John Stuart.
“He met with me, I told him all about the event, and they committed to helping us,” said Taylor. “They agreed to continue supporting Hillsboro Police Department as long as we continue to help our local kids, and they have stood by that promise.”
Encompass DDC supplied 85 of the 145 backpacks that were given away this year. Company volunteers helped pack the supplies in Kentucky and employees Ingrid Mooriston and Doretha Phillips even traveled to Lawrence County to help distribute the packs.
Following the backpack give away, Taylor said volunteers brought out the bicycles and allowed the children to draw tickets to determine the winners. The day’s festivities also included bounce house inflatables, a water slide and dunking booth, concessions and refreshments.
“This year was another great success. We had a great turnout and tremendous support,” Taylor said.
For more information regarding future school drives, volunteers and donors may contact the Hillsboro City Police Department by calling 256-637-6385.