Health and safety focus at 20th Annual Back-to-School Supply Giveaway

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Going to the Mary Nelson back-to-school supply giveaway is a memory Mschalamgria McKenzie has from when she was a little girl.

“I remember when I was a kid and I used to come out here when it first, first started actually the church was open so all my natives in the southside, I grew up down here and I just wanted to bring him down here to experience this too,” McKenzie said.

Now as a single mom raising three kids, McKenzie said every little bit helps. 

“Between paying the bills, making sure they got clothes, sneakers this actually helps out a little bit where it’s something that I do not have to buy and don’t have to worry about so that’s one thing off my list I’m already set for,” she said.

That’s exactly why Mary Nelson has been putting this event on for the last 20 years, to help people like McKenzie and her whole community.

“My faith in my community, in our children, is big, it’s big,”

Mary Nelson

The giveaway has gotten bigger each year, but this summer the focus was on health and safety. A free vaccination clinic was on-site for anyone who was eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

They even used it as an incentive for people to be first in line for the supply giveaway, encouraging those who weren’t already to go to the clinic and receive either the Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson and Johnson shot. 

“We saving lives out here today,” Nelson said.

As for heading back to school in just a few weeks, McKenzie said she was a little nervous to send her son Quadare, but he’s excited to be back in the classroom with his friends. 

The giveaway also featured free food, groceries, and even on-site mammograms and stroke assessments from Upstate Medical University. 

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