Anti-Violence Block Party provides free school supplies to kids

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Lillian Pennon, Dorothy Exum and Tonja Jackson give out school supplies at Saturday’s Anti-Violence Block Party.

The Galilee Church of God in Christ held its annual “Anti-Violence Block Party” outside the church on Old Quogue Road in Riverside Saturday, and gave out free school supplies and backpacks to more than 100 kids.

“We’ve been doing this for about 15 years,” said Lillian Pennon, the coordinator of the event as well as the wife of church paster Dr. Roy Pennon Sr. “We started out small scale, but the event has grown.”

The party, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., had a moon bounce, free hot dogs and hamburgers, face painters and a basketball hoop, as well as free school supplies and backpacks.

“We started the block party a few years ago because there was so much violence, and a lot of it was on Old Quogue Road,” Ms. Pennon said. “So we decided to have a block party with no violence, where people can just get together and have fun.”

While Old Quogue Road has had a bad reputation over the years, Ms. Pennon says it’s getting better.

“It’s a nice neighborhood,” she said. “We get along so well. There’s a lot of nice new people living here.”

The church and Southampton Town’s recreation department originally started the event, and both are still involved, only this year, the Order of the Eastern Star of Tyre Lodge No. 62 in Riverside is also involved, she said.

“We were going to do our own school supply drive and then we found out that the church was doing it too, we decided that instead of doing it separately, we would do it together,” said Dorothy Exum of the Eastern Star. “And combined with the block party, it was better that way.”

“We usually hold this the week before school starts,” Ms. Pennon said. “The whole object is to let the kids have fun, and the biggest thing is that we give out school supplies. A lot of children when they start school, they don’t have first day school supplies.”

Originally, the party was much smaller and provided school supplies to about 20 to 25 kids, Ms. Pennon said. Now, they have more than 100 backpacks and enough school supplies to accommodate more than 100 kids, she said.

“It’s just an effort to help the children on their first day because a lot of them when they go to school, they don’t have stuff and that makes them feel bad,” Ms. Pennon said. “This way, they go in and they’ve got their pencils and crayons and stuff and it makes them feel good.”

A lot of businesses and vendors in town donated money or supplies to the party, Ms. Pennon said.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Kids got a chance to play some hoops at Saturday’s Anti-Violence Block Party.

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