On Saturday, the DC Parks and Recreation Department hosted a back-to-school backpack raffle at the Brentwood Recreation Center in Northeast. They also paid tribute to a lost leader and friend from their ranks.
On Saturday, the DC Parks and Recreation Department hosted a back-to-school backpack giveaway at Brentwood Northeast Recreation Center. They also paid tribute to a lost leader and friend from their ranks.
In the Ricardo Duren backpack raffle, parents in the district found a financial solution to ease the pain inflation has put in their pockets. The event was one of many that are part of the city’s back-to-school month celebration.
“It’ll be really helpful to get them ready for school, which starts in a couple of weeks, so [I’m] very grateful,” said Danielle, a mother who was waiting in line to get backpacks for her two children.
Saturday’s event was named after the man who had helped start the tradition.
Ricardo Duren had worked at DC Parks and Recreation until he died of a heart attack last year. The department, family and friends in the community spent this year remembering him.
“You don’t build a legacy by talking,” said Ricardo’s uncle, Lonnie Duren, who described his late nephew as an author.
Ricardo’s brother, Cordell, felt that the best way to honor Ricardo was to continue the tradition of “stepping up.”
“I just try to live off his legacy because he loved to give back to the community and help kids,” Cordell said. “Once he passed away, I stepped up and said, ‘Well, I’m going to start giving more to the community because now all the kids need love.’
In addition to the backpack giveaway, Ricardo has also worked with the department’s Itinerant Leaders division, which aims to prevent violence among the city’s youth.
“This was her baby, this was her creation. She led this backpack giveaway in this community for 15 years,” said Danielle Hunter, Roving Leaders manager.
There is online registration, but limited supplies mean backpacks are first come, first served. The packages are organized into four different grade blocks: Pre-K, K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and grades 9-12.
There will be another event, the Roving Leader Backpack Giveaway, on August 27th from 11am to 2pm at the Kennedy Recreation Center Northwest.
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