Kids come first with book bag initiative

By: Jennie Miller | Southfield Sun | Published September 7, 2011

 Jacob Robinson, 12, a seventh-grader at Levey Middle School in Southfield, receives a backpack and school supplies from Kids First Initiative volunteer Elliott Chance during  an event at the ‘field Zone Sept. 1.

Jacob Robinson, 12, a seventh-grader at Levey Middle School in Southfield, receives a backpack and school supplies from Kids First Initiative volunteer Elliott Chance during an event at the ‘field Zone Sept. 1.

Photo by Andrew Potter

Advertisement

SOUTHFIELD — Organizers of the Kids First Initiative were pleased with the turnout Sept. 1 at the ‘field Zone youth center in Southfield, where they were able to outfit nearly 75 students with backpacks, school supplies and hygiene products.

“It was awesome,” said Janet Jackson, Oakland County commissioner representing District 21. “It went over really well. It was a great evening all around.”

Jackson and her fellow Oakland County commissioners Helaine Zack and Nancy Quarles lent their support for the effort that brought the forces of the Kids First Initiative and the ‘field Zone together to help enhance the quality of life for schoolchildren in Southfield and Lathrup Village.

“It’s just a good gesture,” said Richard Bell, spokesperson for the Kids First Initiative, a nonprofit organization based in Pontiac.

The organization, founded six years ago, received its nonprofit status last year and performs good deeds in the community, such as book bag giveaways, Thanksgiving basket deliveries, mentorship opportunities, career exploration and necktie instruction for local children in need.

“We can’t solve all their problems, but we’d really like to help families in need,” Bell said.

The necktie instruction is one effort Bell is especially proud of.

“A necktie is such a powerful tool for young people — perception is very important when you go out and look for a job or go out in public,” Bell explained. “People will look at you in a different way and just wearing a necktie can open some doors for you. People might be more receptive to them.”

The organization provides free neckties to boys in local school districts and teaches them how to properly tie them.

“It comes at no cost at all for the school — we’ve been everywhere from Saginaw to southeast Detroit and schools in between. We’re hoping to branch out from the inner city to the suburbs, because a kid might be well off, but he should still learn how to tie a necktie.”

The Sept. 1 event at the ‘field Zone was the organization’s first foray into Southfield.

“We’re very excited the city of Southfield allowed us to come down there and put on our event,” Bell said, adding that they hope to spread awareness about the efforts being made by the organization. “The more donations we have, the more kids we can help.”

Jackson was proud to partner with the Kids First Initiative and bring them to the city she represents.

“I have a special heart for children,” she said. “When people are doing things that affect the lives of children, I like to encourage it and promote those types of activities. At the present time, a lot of families are experiencing hardships, and just the fact that he was giving these book bags with supplies in them along with an opportunity to mentor children, I just thought it would be good to bring him into our city and help support what he’s doing.”

The event was open to the public, not just members of the ‘field Zone.

“We’ve reached out and invited all children in the community through different organizations,” Jackson said. “They (were) offered more than just school supplies. They (were) able to come into the ‘field Zone and see what we have going on there, and be introduced to Richard and his initiative.”

For more information about the Kids First Initiative, or to make a donation, call (248) 213-1419 or visit www.kidsfirstinitiative.com. The organization’s mailing address is P.O. Box 210361 Auburn Hills, MI 48321.
 

Advertisement