Before parents wrapped up purchasing items on back-to school-shopping lists provided by individual schools, Moon’s Barbershop and the Boys and Girls Club at Wiley H. Bates Heritage Park gave families a helping hand on Sunday, August 12, 2018, in the parking lot located at 121 South Villa Avenue in Annapolis.
Each year, Edward Moon, owner of Moon’s barbershop turns off his clippers, leaves his barber shop and along with volunteers who makeup “Team Moon,” host an annual Backpack Giveaway Extravaganza, where area youth who attend receive backpacks filled with supplies and are able enjoy activities with their families, friends and neighbors.
After standing in line with youth who received backpacks this year, multiple generations chatted under trees while eating snacks and free food. Laughter filled the air as they watched the children enjoy pony rides, a moon bounce, games, snowballs, face painting dancing to music under sun-filled skies.
Glen Burnie resident, Erica Matthews who brought her two granddaughters to the event says that it was her first time at the Backpack Giveaway Extravaganza. She found out about it through Facebook and she attends church with Edward Moon and his wife, Colleen Moon.
“Half of the [school supply] list was cut in half because of the event,” Matthews said. “It definitely saves families money. [There are] so many families who are not able to purchase all of the supplies that the children are required to have the first day of school. I know for myself, when I get those two big lists, it’s very hard to come up with all of the cash for all of those items. What Team Moon and the Boys and Girls Club are doing today is really important. Children can at least go to school and feel like they have everything they need to be successful. [It] takes a load off of the parents who feel the stress and frustrations, when they can’t get the children what they need.”
Although the annual Backpack Giveaway Extravaganza marks the beginning of the upcoming school year, Colleen Moon also explained that the program keeps the community together. Approximately 20 volunteers who are friends and family, volunteer to make the activity a success. Donations and a candle fundraiser help to offset the cost to host it. Colleen also noted that many families are very thankful for the school supplies and backpacks they receive for their children, especially since backpacks can cost upwards of $15-$20 per item.
“And when you have multiple children, that’s just a lot,” Colleen said, while standing next to Crystal Johnson-Brown, who has been a volunteer with Moon's Barbershop Annual Backpack Giveaway Extravaganza since its inception in 2005. The active volunteer in Anne Arundel County explained that volunteering is important to her, because it creates more positive experiences in her community, and empowers her to be the best that she can be by helping others.
In 2005, Johnson-Brown’s husband, Melvin Brown teamed up with Edward Moon to start the back-to-school event. At the time, Brown was a police officer with the Annapolis Police Department. Brown now works for another police department in Maryland and even though he was unable to attend this year’s event, Johnson-Brown remarked that he still does his part to help keep the Annual Backpack Giveaway Extravaganza going.
“This year we gave away approximately 300 backpacks, and an array of school supplies for children who already had backpacks,” Johnson-Brown said. “Every year, they return with their families and friends for more fun and fellowship. This day is full of so much fun for them and we look forward to this event every year. We try to add to it annually.”