Last year, West Side Community Services had a party for its summer camp kids, bounce houses and all the rest. A year later, the line stretched out the door for bags of food and school supplies.
The crowd stretching along Vermont Street reflected the ethnic diversity of the West Side: families, moms, dads, religious and ethnic clothing, standing in a hot sun.
West Side Community Services Executive Director Kate Hilliman said the center works with the Independent Health Foundation for the event.
"This is our usual summer good-for-the-neighborhood event that we host with them. It's just a little modified," she said. "So this year it's some school supplies, which they do typically give out in the summer and bags of produce. And we're just having it outside, socially distant and really not having a lot of paperwork or qualifications. It's really come one, come all."
Hilliman said she hopes next year's event will look a lot more like last year's party than the COVID-stressed line with the plastic markers to keep people socially distant.
Many said the food bag was important, but they really wanted the school supplies. Many said the food bag was important, but they really wanted the school supplies. That is at a time when they don't know if the kids will again be in front of the computer as they were this spring or in a traditional classroom, perhaps sitting a lot farther away than in the past.
"But it's good to be prepared," said Carmen Nieto. "Most likely, they'll be doing school at home. So you have ready school supplies."
"Because nobody know when the kids are going to go back to school, right?" said Rachel White. "But they do need the supplies."
That was fairly common, with parents and kids saying they need the supplies, home or school.
Amadi Musa said his kids need the school supplies and he wants them using them in a classroom.
"We need them to go to school," Musa said. "Stay home? No. The lost time for a kid is not good for school. That's why."
"You know what? It ain't the food, it's school. Kids miss having somewhere to go," said Vincent. "But besides that, the food. We still make sure they get their vegetables and everything else. Everything's okay."