Summer is in full swing, but the reopening of school doors is just around the corner in late August.

Ja’Nai McKinney, a professional daycare teacher and events manager who gives back to the community, will be teaming up with partners to host a “Back to School Give Back” in Baltimore.

“I want to help bring light back to the city. With all the negative things going on, I still want Baltimore to have hope,” McKinney said.

The Annapolitan wants children who are ages three to 17 years old, residing on Potee Street and in the surrounding area to receive free book bags, school supplies and snacks. A moon bounce, face painting, music and games will offer a chance to have a little fun.

Ja’Nai McKinney led a Back to School event in 2022 at Euphoria Night Club in Baltimore. This year, a Back To School Give Back will be held on August 12, 2023 at 3720 Potee Street in Baltimore, Maryland from 12-3 p.m. at Gargolas Lounge.
Photo credit: Catch This Flash

She also said that “she still wants Baltimore to know that people care and have their back.”

In early July, two individuals were killed and 28 were wounded in a mass shooting at a block party that was held on Potee Street. The unfortunate melee made national headlines. McKinney happened to be working at Gargolas Lounge, located at 3720 Potee Street, the night that the incident occurred. She stated that she could hear gunshots. McKinney and various Back to School Give Back volunteers are embracing the idea of bringing positivity to area youth.

“On August 12, 2023, we have a lot of community businesses and promoters coming to help with the back-to-school give-back. We would love to extend an invitation to some of Baltimore’s city officials to come out,” McKinney said.

She stated that one of the biggest issues these days is local officials speaking about helping the community but not getting involved in doing the actual groundwork.

“If some local officials show up, that will show actual change,” McKinney said.

The upcoming event will be underway at Gargolas Lounge in Baltimore, Maryland from 12-3 p.m. on August 12, 2023. Tied In Cares; Dream Mega Lounge; Flourishing Minds Wellness Center; Fadam Got Da Juice; Dj pro2col; Peace and Love Queens LLC; and Lor Z are among partners who are pitching in to help. McKinney states that a host of party promoters are participating by doing everything from donating supplies to posting flyers and spreading the word about the community event.

Local music artist, Money Jake; community volunteer, Ja’Nai McKinney; and radio personality, DJ QuickSilva during an annual turkey drive for less fortunate families hosted by McKinney. Hot food is also given to the homeless.
Courtesy photo

Additionally, Gargolas Lounge will provide the venue, DTLR will assist with supplying prizes such as gift cards and DJ QuickSilva is helping out. He is known as an on-air personality and DJ who currently works for 92Q in Baltimore & 93.9 WKYS in Washington, D.C. The well-known musical industry personality is also a national DJ and brand ambassador for DTLR. Giving back remains on his list.

“I got involved with the event through seeing the need and working with Ja’Nai. I will be sponsoring the event, donating and helping to promote it. I’ve collaborated with Ja’Nai many times in the past for community work in Baltimore,” DJ QuickSilva said.

He added that turkeys have been given away during previous holiday seasons. He and McKinney have fed the homeless and lent a hand during other back-to-school drives and community giveaways.

DJ QuickSilva stated that youth will benefit from their next back-to-school event giveaway by receiving school supplies and by “also seeing that they are cared for and loved by the city.”

He added, “It’s very important to support them to give them hope especially after the horrible act that occurred there.”

Hannah Konteh, managing Partner At United Metropolitan Group explained that Dream Mega Lounge is a client. United Metropolitan Group serves as the general business manager.

Dream, which is in the heart of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor at 10 S Calvert Street, strives to give back by uplifting the community and encouraging inner city youth to use school as a resource to aim for a better future, according to Konteh.

This is one of many projects that the venue has participated in for the sake of reintroducing positivity during trying times in Baltimore.

“The owners Lamont Macey, Justin Hunt and I, are board members to many nonprofits in the area,” Konteh said. “We need jobs, educational programs, resources, affordable housing, healthcare, opportunities and schools without disparities due to area code. Dream is taking the initiative to do the groundwork with other community leaders. That’s why we chose to partake in this event to bring good energy back to the community.”

 Prior registration is not required for the free event. For more information, contact McKinney by calling 443-454-4847, or reach @gargolaslounge through Instagram. School supply and book bag donations will be accepted until August 11, 2023.

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