By Shirley Hawkins
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — It will be a day of celebration Aug. 6 when probation officer Yuri Williams holds his annual “Backpack 2 School Giveaway” at Jim Gilliam Park.
Williams, who runs the nonprofit A Future Superhero and Friends which he founded 13 years ago, distributes toys and other supplies to disadvantaged youth throughout the year and said he is eagerly looking forward to the day of festivities that will supply school children with school supplies for the upcoming year.
“For the past two years, we were only able to do a drive-by giveaway because of COVID,” said Williams, who likes to suit up as popular superheroes such as Spiderman and Deadpool to the delight of adults and children alike. “But finally this year, we’ll be able to interact physically with the public again.
Since starting his nonprofit, Williams’ goal’s is to help “the homeless, veterans, sick children in hospitals and low-income and unemployed individuals — just anyone in need.
“This Saturday, the kids will be able to walk up and pick out the backpack that they want,” Williams said, adding that his foundation will be giving away 1,000 backpacks. ”Each backpack will be filled with pencils, paper, notebooks, a ruler, highlighters and colored pencils.
“They’ll also be able to get hot dogs donated by Farmer John’s, bottles of water, raffle giveaways, access to resources, facials, haircuts, face painting, and they will be able to create their own art at an art table,” Williams added. “There also will be a DJ playing music.”
Williams is expecting a huge crowd and will give away supplies on a first-come basis.
“I passed out flyers at the local YMCAs and schools in the LAUSD school district such as Audubon, Dorsey and Crenshaw High. I also contacted district 10, KJLH radio and KBLA radio.”
Asked why he is dedicated to helping the youth and helping families with donations of food and money, Williams said, “I grew up near Adams and Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles and this community helped me to become what I am. And this is why I give back to those in need.”
Williams, who works for the Orange County Probation Department, interacts daily with incarcerated youth with mental health issues.
“I chose to be a probation officer because I wanted to help kids in trouble,” he said. “When I was growing up, the gang-bang activity was worse than it is now. I’m just committed to giving back to show the youth that they are loved and appreciated,” Williams said.
Companies who help sponsor the event include Jason of Beverly Hills, Mr. Charlie’s Dirt Dog, Liquid Death Chicago playground, Target, Victory Insurance Melrose Bakery, Humanity Heroes,
Lavender Luxury Pillows, South LA Cafe and Lady Liberty Preparedness.
The Backpack 2 School Giveaway will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Jim Gilliam Park, 4000 S. La Brea Ave. The lineup starts at 8:30 a.m.
For more information, go to www.afuturesuperhero.org.
Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at email@example.com.