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Elementary Students Receive Backpacks, School Supplies
by U.S. Coast Guard Patrick Ferraris
September 6, 2021

On the afternoon of August 26, 2021 ... the halls and playground of Anita J. Turner Elementary School in Washington, D.C. were alive for the first time in over a year. With D.C. public schools reopening fully for the 2021-2022 school year, students prepared by returning, in-person, to their school and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) was there to be a part of it.

Members of the USCG and partners from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) handed out 289 backpacks filled with school supplies to students of Turner Elementary during their back-to-school night event, the official welcome for students before the first day of school. Students and parents were there to prepare for the upcoming new school year by meeting teachers, seeing their classrooms, and making new friends, but weren’t expecting to receive new supplies.

Chaplain Andrew Hoyle (standing, back left), CGHQ Partnership In Education (PIE) Coordinator, along with USCG and DHS volunteers, pose in front of a table full of backpacks stuffed with school supplies at Anita J. Turner Elementary School during a back-to-school night event on August 26, 2021. Hundreds of USCG and DHS volunteers donated equipment or helped pack backpacks with schools supplies to support the D.C. community through St. Elizabeth’s Back-to-School backpack and supply drive. This year, the annual drive was part of the Coast Guard's Partnership in Education Program. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Patrick Ferraris)
Chaplain Andrew Hoyle (standing, back left), CGHQ Partnership In Education (PIE) Coordinator, along with USCG and DHS volunteers, pose in front of a table full of backpacks stuffed with school supplies at Anita J. Turner Elementary School during a back-to-school night event on August 26, 2021. Hundreds of USCG and DHS volunteers donated equipment or helped pack backpacks with schools supplies to support the D.C. community through St. Elizabeth’s Back-to-School backpack and supply drive. This year, the annual drive was part of the Coast Guard's Partnership in Education Program. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Patrick Ferraris)

The backpacks and supplies were gathered by USCG and DHS members and brought to the school in the hopes of giving students the tools to start the new school year on the right foot, as well as to give them confidence and help ease potential financial burdens for families.

The initiative was part of the USCG’s annual St. Elizabeth’s Back-to-School backpack and school supplies drive.

While the USCG has been loading backpacks and donating school supplies on a yearly basis to benefit the Southeast DC community, the event marks the first time that it was linked with the Coast Guard’s Partnership in Education (PIE) Program. The back-to-school night event was also Coast Guard Headquarters’ (CGHQ) first PIE activity with Turner Elementary School, which is located just two miles from the St. Elizabeth’s Campus where CGHQ is located.

Chaplain Andrew Hoyle, CGHQ’s PIE Coordinator, reached out to Turner Elementary due to its proximity in hopes of building a relationship through the PIE program. PIE unites the Coast Guard family with local schools and communities through opportunities to work directly with students, enhancing educational opportunities and raising awareness about the Service.

“Turner Elementary’s leadership team has been great to work with,” Hoyle said. “I spoke with them about the PIE program and the Turner community, and it became clear that we had the potential for a great partnership. Together, we think the students at Turner stand to benefit tremendously from the volunteer efforts of the Coast Guard.”

The tireless, behind the scenes efforts from Rear Adm. Carola List, Executive Champion for St. Elizabeth’s Back-to-School Backpack Drive, and the hundreds of volunteers from USCG and DHS who donated backpacks and supplies worth thousands of dollars and those who helped pack them made all the difference.

It was the smiles on the faces of students, parents, and teachers who attended the event that showed this. The warmth and joy from the Coast Guard and DHS volunteers handing out the backpacks and supplies also spoke to the strength that is already present in the partnership. As this partnership continues to grow, Hoyle knows that back-to-school night is only the first of many successful PIE activities that CGHQ will be hosting with Turner Elementary.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officers 3rd Class Devin Sciutti (left) and Summer Lowery hold up just a few of the 289 backpacks filled with supplies that were handed out to students at Anita J. Turner Elementary School during a back-to-school night event on August 26, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Patrick Ferraris)
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officers 3rd Class Devin Sciutti (left) and Summer Lowery hold up just a few of the 289 backpacks filled with supplies that were handed out to students at Anita J. Turner Elementary School during a back-to-school night event on August 26, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Patrick Ferraris)

“We look forward to building off of the success of our first event together, and are always looking for new opportunities to grow with Turner Elementary, as well as other schools in our community,” Hoyle said. “We hope to build new partnerships and engage our existing partners as much as we can so that we can generate even more volunteer efforts from the Coast Guard team. Our ultimate goal is to support our D.C. communities and the children in our National Capital Region (NCR) schools.”

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