Community addresses gun violence at back to school giveaway

CHARLOTTE — As students are getting ready to head back to the classroom, school districts are thinking about ways to keep kids safe.

Community members held a school supply giveaway that provided hundreds of families with free backpacks.

“It makes it so much easier ‘cause I know that’s one less thing I have to worry about,” parent Phyllis Tate said.

Channel 9 reporter Glenn Counts spoke with attendees who wanted to use the event to start conversations around gun violence.

The event was designed to allow kids to have a good time before they head back to school, as well as provide them with the tools they will need to succeed in the classroom, while also sending a positive message.

A group called The Men said beneath the charitable message was a call to action to fight some of the violent crime that has plagued the city this summer.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” Melvin Austin, with The Men, said. “The answer is to try and get into the community. To let them know options are available and we’re here to talk about it.”

The Men said it is a mentoring group designed to reach out to young children, to keep them on the right path.

Tate told Channel 9 that her son Rodarius was murdered in 2020.

Organizers said they wanted to reach out to parents like her to combat the violence that is taking place on the streets.

“I appreciate everything these guys are doing,” Tate said.

Community members hope that letting the children know that they care will encourage them to make the right decisions as they grow up.

(WATCH BELOW: Community members visit WSOC-TV for 9 School Tools collection day)