Attorney General Denise George has announced the successful distribution of supplies to students during the first “Back to School Laptop Give Away” launch for the 2020-2021 school year. The event held July 20-23 was spearheaded by V.I. Access and Visitation, which is an arm of the Department of Justice’s Paternity and Child Support Division (PCSD).
Parents of students who completed the Department of Education Extended School Year Summer Enrichment Program were contacted, and they each received backpacks and Lenovo laptops, headphones, mouses and mouse pads. A total of 36 laptops and backpacks were distributed to date and another eight have been assigned in the St. Thomas/St. John District. Plans are already underway for the St. Croix distribution. “This distribution of laptops was timely,” AG George said. “Especially in light of Governor Albert Bryan Jr.’s order prior to the first day of classes that the territory’s public schools utilize virtual learning due to Delta Variant of the COVID-19 virus on the rise.”
Access and Visitation Program Administrator Dr. Sharon Jackson-McDonald said the parents and students expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the supplies. She said the students are solely responsible for the care and use of the laptops that do not have to be returned. Parents were asked to agree that the computers will be used for the intended purpose.
“Parents signed agreements to indicate that they will not use the devices for personal use but for completing assignments and developing their son/daughter’s educational skills required to thrive in the 21st century,” said Jackson-McDonald. In addition, she said each parent had the opportunity to learn more about the Access and Visitation Programs during the distribution.
“I am pleased with the distribution and for the opportunity to share more about the programs that are held for parents and children in the V.I. Access and Visitation Program. Not only do we work tirelessly to help provide our vulnerable children with the financial support to thrive and to become responsible and successful adults in our community, but we also facilitate access and visitation of non-custodial parents so children have the long-term benefits they deserve when both parents are involved in their lives. We have many programs designed to assist.
“We hope that our contribution will help offset some of the financial concerns of disadvantaged students so that they can succeed in the 2021-2022 school year,” said George.
The following are a few of the comments expressed by the parents and guardians:
“Financially, things are hard, and I did not know how my son would get his school supplies. But
I can’t believe he’s getting a laptop, and he does not have to return it! Thank you so much for giving my son his first laptop!”
Another parent said, “I am the guardian of my grandson since his birth. He is now 12 years old. The governor has declared Visual Learning, and how timely my grandson is receiving his laptop; I am so happy! Thank you very much!”
A third parent wrote, “I just want to express how “thankful” I am for the laptop device provided to my child for participating in the extended school year program. It came at the right time since it was announced on July 29th that our children will be back in virtual learning on August 9th because of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the territory. It was announced the same day the laptop was picked up; God is good. It is truly appreciated and recognized as the “village” coming together to ensure the children and the caregivers receive the support needed. Of course, it is also recognized that the support is not only received from family and friends, but also from strangers and community organizations, such as your program. You and your TEAM are a blessing to all of us; especially to those of us who are raising our grandchild(ren) and tend to feel alone.”
Last month over 100 children territory-wide also benefited from backpack giveaways as V.I. Access and Visitation/PCSD collaborated with the Salvation Army to hand out supplies to the public. Students on St. Croix and in the St. Thomas/St. John District received backpacks loaded with much-needed school supplies – books, pens, pencils, and highlighters – to support families as they prepared for the new academic year.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Access and Visitation Program Administrator Dr. Sharon Jackson-McDonald, Mrs. Delta M. Matthews, Mrs. Jacqueline M. Nelthropp and PCSD Acting Director Kathryn Jensen-DeLugo for their hard work and professional services,” said George.