The silver lining of a tragic day in Long County two years ago is helping area kids get ready for school.
On June 2, 2012, third-graders Hannah Foreman and Ta’Keith Russell both died. Her death was an accident. It is yet to be determined whether his was an accident or crime.
In the aftermath of their deaths, A New Beginning Church started the Foreman/Russell Backpack Drive. The annual event honors the memory of the children. This year’s drive culminated July 22, when the supplies were handed out.
“We do our best to try and give back to the community,” Pastor Tom Gardner said. “I believe that it is biblical to tithe, and this is one of the ways our church does its part to tithe. And, you know, what it’s always blessed us.”
The pastor said this is the third year for the drive and it has grown every year.
“The first year we held it, we gave away 400,” Gardner said. “Last year, we gave away 600. And this year, we’re going to give away 800 backpacks loaded with some school supplies.”
The backpacks are stuffed with pencils, erasers, crayons and a notebook. During the giveaway, the church also provides hamburgers to all who come by. A “Kids Land” with inflatable bounce houses and water slides has also been set up.
Danny Foreman, Hannah’s father, attended this year. He said the loss of his daughter still hurts, but seeing the drive and the smiles of the children helps him.
“My family, and the Russell family, it helps us cope,” Foreman said. “There is not enough thanks that I could say, for what this means to us. It means a lot to us, and I know it also means a lot to this community.”
Church member Cliff DeLoach said, “This is truly a wonderful, wonderful event. As it approaches every year, I always encourage families to come on up here and get a backpack and enjoy the day.”
Gardner said he and his church will continue the event, and continue to remember Hannah and Ta’Keith.
“We don’t understand, when something happens like these two children passing away, but as long as we hold these drives, they will always be remembered,” Gardner said.
You can see more pictures from the backpack drive at www.community.coastalcourier.com.