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Mall event helps usher in new school year

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Sanyha Jones, 9, dances through the line with her new bookbag with Ron Green, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of The Tar River Region, on Friday during the Back 2 School Jam at Golden East Crossing mall.

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By PHILIP SAYBLACK
Staff Writer

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Golden East Crossing mall played host to hundreds of local families Friday evening for a special annual event.

The mall held its fourth annual Back 2 School Jam inside its central court. So many people attended the event, which is aimed mainly at helping area families get much-needed school supplies for their children, that the line for the event stretched almost from one end of the mall to the other as it started.

While the event’s backpack giveaway was once again its biggest draw, it was not the event’s only attraction. Also available for families to enjoy were free face painting, free haircuts from Edgecombe Community College and more. 

Mall Marketing Director Ashley Pittman said while lots of people showed up for the backpack giveaway, she was not concerned about running out of backpacks. She estimated the mall had at least 1,050 backpacks to give away, adding specific criteria was in place to make certain there were enough backpacks for every child. That criteria included that children must be no younger than 4-years-old and must also be present with their parents to get the backpacks.

Pittman added being able to help the community is why the mall holds the event annually.

“For us at Golden East Crossing mall, holding this event is about giving back to the Rocky Mount community,” Pittman said. “We want to give back. I think this event’s popularity is why its sponsors are so willing to give back. Some of the sponsors have donated backpacks. Others have donated food for the event and others have donated items for giveaway. They see the need that is being displayed in the community.”

The sponsors for this year’s event included the Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation Department, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region, Greater Joy Missionary Baptist Church, AT&T, Kaba Ilco, Sheetz, Zaxby’s, Century Link and Friendly Check.

Local resident Helen Blankshain, who brought her four sons to the event, said she is deeply appreciative that the mall has continued to give back to the community.

“This is my first year coming to this event,” Blankshain said. “Having this event really helps my sons and me a lot. It is really special that they do this.”

Planning for Friday’s event started between February and March of this year, Pittman said, adding that planning for next year’s event will start today.

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