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Unify Baltimore back-to-school rally at held Mondawmin Mall

Deborah Bailey | 8/26/2016, 9 a.m.
It’s back to school time in Baltimore.
Unify Baltimore volunteers at the Mondawmin back to school rally

— It’s back to school time in Baltimore. Thanks to organizers of the Unify Baltimore Back-to-School Rally, book bags and school supplies were distributed to thousands of children and their families at a back-to-school jamboree at Mondawmin Mall in the afternoon Saturday, August 20, 2016.

Kevin Shird, author and lead organizer of the Unify Back to School Rally said that he found himself asking how he could help unify the city after the 2015 spring unrest.

“It started last year after the uprising. Mondawmin Mall has been very helpful and positive in making sure we could pull this off,” Shird said. “Last year, we distributed 3000 book-bags.”

This year the group prepared 4000 book bags that were distributed to youth who needed to start the school year off right.

The back-to-school event featured youth and adult entertainment and information tables from community-based organizations, including: the Girl Scouts and Black Girls Vote.

“Girls Scouts is a wonderful program for girls from different areas. It’s really important to reach out to the community, to make sure we have included girls from all sectors of the city,” said Leigh Holly, program coordinator for the Girl Scouts. “We set certain standards and we teach girls really important lessons that they will need in life.”

Cierra Jones, who brought her three children and two nephews to the back-to-school event, used the opportunity to sign her daughter up for the Girl Scouts while she browsed the information tables.

“It’s better to be involved in the community instead of being home and not doing anything,” Jones said.

Mondawmin Mall administrators were pleased to invite Unify Baltimore back for a second year.

“The Unify Baltimore Organization continues to touch thousands of school age children each year by preparing them for school, which is an event we will continue to support,” said Romaine Smallwood-Smoot, general manager of Mondawmin Mall. “As a community retail center, we believe it is our responsibility to be a place where people not only shop and dine but offer much more by way of service.”

The new Baltimore Pubic Schools CEO, Sonja Santelises was delighted to see the community support displayed at the Unify Baltimore Back-to-School Rally. She says that she is looking forward to greeting the 84,000 students in the Baltimore City Public Schools System next week according to a statement on the BCPS website. School starts for students on Monday, August 29, 2016.