Hundreds of children flocked to Malcolm X Park on Sunday to attend a free book bag giveaway hosted by young local entrepreneur Nehemiah Davis.
During the event, children were treated to such activities as horseback rides and face painting. There were also free hair cuts for boys and hair styling for girls provided by participating barbers and stylists who volunteered their time to help get children in the neighborhood ready for school.
Throughout the park, lines formed with children, residents and their parents who waited patiently for the free food and activities.
“It’s wonderful that they are doing it. It’s just so great to see all of the people out here with the kids having a good time. It is just fantastic,” said Gregorio Pac Cojulun Jr., president of the Friends of Malcolm X Memorial Park.
Cojulun said he received a call from Davis requesting use of the park for the event and Davis followed the procedure for hosting events at the park. Cojulun said that the request was only two weeks ago.
“All of a sudden it came into being,” he said. “Everybody chipped in, they helped him out and, what can I say, he’s a fantastic young man.”
Davis was joined by other groups who wanted to help prepare children for their return to school as well. One group was the New Black Panther Party which gave out free clothing to anyone in need of them.
“We’re here giving out free clothing to the people amidst other people giving out free school supplies and other things, but this is something we do every day at the New Black Panther Party,” said Minister King Samir Shabazz, the national and international field marshal for the New Black Panther Party. “We just came to show love to the people because this is what we do.”
Crowds gathered for their turn to select from the tables of clothing.
“We do this because we love our people more than they hate themselves,” said. “We can no longer continue to become dependent on Gucci or other fashion designers; our people are suffering.”
The barbers and hair dressers also felt the need to give back.
“A bunch of guys from different shops around the city decided to collaborate with the young man hosting this event [Davis] and decided to give back to the community and give the children haircuts for schools,” said barber Stefon Hollaway.
He noted fresh haircuts not only improve appearance but also improve one’s self esteem. Local barbers who participated in the event wanted to let the children know there are generous people in the community.
Although the volunteers were busy, few were as busy as Davis who could be seen rushing from one task to another throughout the entire event acting as host, laborer and event coordinator.
This was Davis’ fourth annual book bag giveaway, but the first held in Malcolm X Park. Davis, 25, began his service to the community four years ago with the advice from his mother Myra he should give some of the money he made from his entrepreneurship back to the community. He did so by giving sandwiches to the homeless in Center City.
“We haven’t stopped since then,” said Davis. “We just keep adding new things to really make a difference.”
To other young, Black men, Davis counsels them to keep their heads up, surround themselves with positive people, and avoid those who belittle them.
Davis started the Peace ’N Philly organization to help end the violence on the city’s streets.
Those interested in donating to Peace ’N Philly or to support his foundation, the Nehemiah Davis Foundation, are encouraged to go to his website Nehemiahdavisfoundation.org.
“You are who you hang around,” said Davis. “Get mentors. Get with people who give back to society and hold on to them. That’s what I do.”
The Easter bunny dropped a lot of eggs throughout West and Southwest Philadelphia over the holiday weekend – and children living in the area were all to glad to find them.
Last Saturday, Easter egg hunts were held in at least three locations in our area and altogether, hundreds of children participated.
Hunts took place at the Malcolm X Park on 52nd and Pine Street, the Francis Meyers Recreation Center and on individual blocks for Deborah Briggs and Betty Harris, of Betty Harris Homes on the 2600 block of Bonnaffon Street.
“We have lots of parents and children out here, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell out here and our state representative Jim Roebuck,” said Gregorio Pac Cojulun, Jr. president of the Friends of Malcolm X Memorial Park.
Hundreds of children attended this event with their parents and enjoyed moon bounces, a special visit from the Easter Bunny and other popular cartoon figures, food and face painting.
“It’s Easter and it’s a chance for us to give the kids a good time,” Cojulun said. “This park was made for them, so let them go ahead and enjoy themselves. That’s the main thing, for the children to enjoy themselves.”
One of the highlights of the day was the visit from the firefighters from the Philadelphia Fire Department, who arrived in a fire truck, full uniform and gave a tour of the truck to the children who lined up in anticipation for their chance to enter the fire truck.
“They usually park the truck outside and give the children a tour and sometimes they pull out one of the hoses and allow the children to handle it,” Cojulun said. “The kids just have a ball. A lot of kids just see fireman fly down the street going to fires and stuff like that and this is a chance to see what they really do; how heavy their coats and helmets are, let them see the boots. It’s pretty fascinating for some of the kids.”
In Southwest Philadelphia, the Easter bunny seemed to have dropped hundreds of eggs in the yard of Francis Meyers Recreation Center, at 58th and Chester – where over a hundred children were all to glad to find them.
Organized by Sonya Walker, director of Safe Haven Youth Foundation, the children were not only able to participate in an Easter egg hunt outside the Rec Center, but also enjoyed fun activities and snacks inside.
“This is just basically to keep the kids off the street and to have positive fun and do all kinds of fun things while learning our morals and respect for each other,” she said.
Deborah Briggs, block captain of the 2600 block of Bonnaffon Street, joined with Betty Harris of Betty Harris Homes, Inc., treated flocks of lchildren to an Easter egg hunt. Crowds of children gathered at Harris’ home for holiday treats and festivities.
“We dyed some eggs, brought plastic eggs [filled with candy] and let the kids come out and have an Easter egg hunt and just have fun,” said Briggs who had a team of volunteers to assist her and Harris with the event.
“Its something that we do every year and I think it’s a wonderful thing and we do it for the children in our community,” said Harris, who is co-block captain and a community advocate.
Among the volunteers were two junior block captains, Clayton Ferris, 10, who has worked in this capacity for several years along with Rasheed Arnold, 8.
“It feels great because you don’t want to live on a block that’s dirty, so we get up and clean the block,” said Ferris when asked what it was like to be a junior block captain.
Arnold echoed these sentiments.
“I clean the block when there is trash in front of my door and I pull the weeds up,” he said.