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Hundreds of Petersburg children surprised with backpacks, supplies: 'It was a beautiful experience'

Posted at 5:01 PM, Oct 24, 2022

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Hundreds of Petersburg children were surprised on Monday morning after receiving a donation from the Petersburg Freedom Support Center.

More than 350 three and four-year-olds at Westview Early Childhood Education Center were given new book bags, school supplies and a toy.

"I wasn't expecting them to be as excited to see us but they were really excited to see us and that made my day," Cadet Major Isaiah Ramadan, an ROTC member at Virginia State University, said.

"I thought it was a beautiful experience for the children to see people coming through, bringing them things to uplift them," Candice Coates, a teacher at the education center, said.

While the education center makes sure that its students have everything they need, this type of donation is a big help.

"Throughout the year, they're three and four-year-olds, zippers break, pieces fall apart, they are lost in transit and so just to have that extra book bag, that when it's needed, a parent can swap it out or use it, it's fantastic."

The Freedom Support Center helps active duty and veterans in the Tri-Cities area and has been closed because of the pandemic. ROTC cadets from Virginia State University, U.S. Marines from Fort Lee and Petersburg police officers.

"It sends a message to the kids that they have someone they can trust. They have someone they can call their friend," Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian said.

Educators at Westview said Monday was much more than a book bag donation but also a true learning experience where the children got to see up close those who care for them and their futures.

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