ATLANTA — Hosea Helps COO Afemo Omilami noted that, despite the scorching, oppressive heat and sun rays that baked the black pavement, there was still a long line consisting of hundreds of families that stretched around and out of Turner Field’s Blue Lot Sunday morning.
The families were there to get school supplies as part of the 14th annual Back-to-School Jamboree set up by Hosea Helps (also known as Hosea Feed the Hungry).
“Even in this heat, the line was almost out of the parking lot, so we see there is a major need,” the actor said. “I don’t know why you would want to do anything else but to help people in their times of need.”
Some families started lining up at Turner Field before the sun even came up (even as early as 5 a.m., according to Omilami) to register their children and pick up a backpack filled with school supplies. By noon, the line stretched halfway around the parking lot.
Omilami’s wife, the president and CEO of Hosea Helps, Elisabeth Omilami told this reporter that her heart hurt to see so many people in need — and their willingness to bear the hostile weather conditions to do so.
“I just saw a lady yesterday pay $10,000 for a pair of shoes at an event that I was at,” she said, her words coated in passion, “and I’m looking here and I know that a lot of these children didn’t have any breakfast. I know that a lot of them don’t know where lunch is going to be.”
Parents and children stood in multiple lines where they were able to pick up healthy foods such as fruits, or go pick out decent clothing, get school supplies and get others services.
According to organizers, Atlanta Public Schools enrolled around 100 children, nearly the same number got eye exams.
For Omilami, making sure kids have what they need in time for school is very important.
“We don’t want our children to go back to school ashamed because they have raggedy shoes, or because they don’t have their school supplies, or because they have a raggedy shirt,” Omilami said.
This is the 14th year Hosea Feed the Hungry has held the Back-to-School Jamboree.