Effort made to support school children

Aug. 18, 2014 @ 05:30 PM

The parking lot along Zeb Robinson Road looked more like an outdoor concert Sunday — complete with food, bounce houses and a DJ.

A back-to-school giveaway event helped prepare Vance County students with book bags, notebooks and pens in anticipation for the new school year, which starts next week.

Volunteers passed out more than 300 backpacks filled with school supplies.

There were hundreds of free hot dogs and hamburgers grilled on site, with chili and coleslaw to add on, and kids could cool off from the heat with frozen snow cones being handed out.

The DJ encouraged kids to step onto the stage and dance along to the hip-hop jams blaring from the speakers.

Lisa Wilkerson, who works for the event’s sponsor, House of Toyz, said they wanted to do something to benefit the children of Vance County.

“We feel like sometimes the community is not always positive, so we are trying to show the kids positive things — like if you do good you get rewarded,” she said. “We are trying to keep them off the streets. Some of these kids don’t have both parents so they might not have the information they need and we want to be here to provide it. We want to give them positive encouragement so they know somebody cares.”

T-shirts were printed with the store name and “Yes, we care” on the back.

“We care about everybody,” Wilkerson said. “It doesn’t matter — small, big, no matter what color — we help everybody.”

The automobile accessory business, located at Garnett Street’s intersection with Raleigh Road, has done community events in the past, including a report card giveaway where students got $100 for making all A’s and $50 for all A’s and one B.

“What’s important to me is our kids,” said Lamont Siplen, the owner. “Our kids are our future. I grew up with nothing, so I know how it feels to have nothing.”

Siplen, who was raised in Henderson, has turned his life around after being incarcerated on gun charges years ago.

“I want to show these kids appreciation and love because they are going to be pushing us around when we get old,” he said.

He said he wants to show young people there are alternatives to the criminal lifestyle.

“I got these cars so I can show these kids there is another way to do it,” he said. “You don’t have to sell drugs to have cars. You don’t have to sell drugs to get these big rims. But now since I’m not living that lifestyle, I’m in a different category and I can go buy a car and sign my name. That’s the glorious thing about not selling drugs and not doing things illegal.”

Siplen said he believes even those youth who have started down the wrong path can have a second chance.

“It’s a blessing from God,” he said. “I’ve changed my whole life around. I look at things a lot different than I used to.”

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.