BBQ helps with back to school expenses

Columbia College-Hancock Field

Eleven years ago Mary Nelson started the Back-to-School Barbeque as a way to curb violence in her neighborhood. The program has since grown exponentially. In 2011 more than 21,000 youths and their families attended the event. This year’s event drew more than 1 million participants.
The purpose of the Back-to-School Barbeque is to collect donations of various back-to-school items for children of all ages throughout the city of Syracuse.
As an extension of its dedication to community awareness and misson to provide life long learning, Columbia College-Hancock Field, located in Syracuse, NY, donated backpacks, pencils, folders, crayons and other school related items. The BBQ also featured a parade, music and food.
Kelly Kugler, campus admissions manager at the Columbia College-Hancock campus in Syracuse, NY, helped organize the campus’ donations. Many staff members made personal donations to contribute on behalf of the college.
“Next year, we plan on getting started further in advance to retrieve donations from our faculty, students, military, and community members,” Kugler said.
Nelson believes that if children stay in school, they will refrain from violence and have a reason to focus on their studies. Nelson saw a way to facilitate their education by providing learning materials that they otherwise may not have access to.
“I was fortunate enough to have Mary Nelson herself come to our new facility to retrieve our donation of backpacks, pencils, folders, crayons, and much more,” Kugler said.  “I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet her. Mary is such an amazing person.”