Junior League ‘superhero’ event donates school supplies, immunizations to HISD students

By Amber Elliot, 10/22/2020

When Houston Independent School District announced in-person learning would resume on Oct. 19, Rachel Regan anticipated that the transition could be stressful for some families. Fortunately, as president of the Junior League of Houston, she’d been on the lookout for a project to serve residents who were out of reach given COVID-19’s social distancing restrictions. The return to school provided an opportunity to put the volunteer organization’s resources to work.

“We were looking at non-traditional ways to continue serving the community,” Regan said. “We kept asking ourselves, ‘What could we do to meet this vast amount of basic needs?’”

The non-profit’s Houston chapter serves 34 agencies across the city. Last Saturday, clients from Star of Hope Mission’s Women & Family Development Center, Bo’s Place, Houston Area Women’s Center and DePelchin Children’s Center were invited to participate in the inaugural Junior League Community “Super Market.”

The superhero-theme, drive-thru style event provided 220 children with a week’s worth of clothing, outerwear, shoes and socks supplied from Clothed by Faith.

“There were even hair bows for little girls,” Regan added. “Every child has to find the hero within themselves. We’re each doing the very best we can with what the world has presented us.”

To lift spirits, some of the 50 volunteers suited up in superhero costumes. “One little boy was so excited to see Spider-Man and Black Panther. His mouth was wide open,” Regan said.

In addition to age-appropriate clothing, Undies for Everyone distributed more than 1,000 pairs of underwear. Attack Poverty and Team Red Door donated backpacks filled with school supplies and reading material provided by Books Between Kids. Toiletry kits packaged by League members included N95 face masks and full-size body wash, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes for 170 families.

Of those, at least 25 were clients of DePelchin Children’s Center, a foster and adoption care agency.

“DePelchin has a long-standing relationship with the Junior League,” said Kelsey Pett, the Center’s volunteer and community engagement manager. “Right now — especially now — it’s really hard for a lot of our families. The ‘Super Market’ let’s them not stress over basic needs. Maybe they needed extra cleaning products or food — it’s all there.”

Two of the stations at the League were designated for meal pick-up. One featured a family-size spaghetti dinner prepared in the League kitchen using ingredients donated by Ben E. Keith; the other included fresh produce, snacks, loaves of artisan bread and cupcakes sourced by Second Servings of Houston.

As an added bonus, Texas Children’s Hospital used the opportunity to debut its new Superkids Pediatric Mobile Clinic. The healthcare provider-on-wheels was funded by a $359,000 donation from the League and provided free immunizations and medical screenings for the kids onsite.

“It’s important for our kids to see that people care about them outside of the immediate family,” Pett said.

Source: October 22, 2020, Houston Chronicle,  Amber Elliot