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Local black-owned businesses surprise students, families hit hard by COVID-19

Written by on December 16, 2020

Local black-owned businesses teamed up with schools from the Acres Homes area Friday to fulfill Christmas wishes of those hardest hit by the pandemic.

Booker T. Washington High School, MC Williams Middle School and Ernest McGowen Sr. Elementary selected nearly two dozen families from the STEM UP Urban Perspective program to participate in this year’s Christmas giveaway. 

“This was our second year doing the event, but this year we wanted to open it up to more families because of the hardships that so many have faced due to the pandemic,” said event organizer, Dr. Lakeisha “KiKi” Menifee. “Some of the students have lost parents due to COVID-19 and are experiencing homelessness due to family job loss and other issues.”

Each family was adopted by a local black-owned business and surprised with their Christmas gifts during an unveiling at the historic Houston Forward Times Newspaper headquarters.

“When Dr. KiKi reached out to us we were honored to be a part of such a great cause,” said Forward Times Publisher Karen Carter Richards. “We reached out to a number of local businesses and organizations who jumped at the chance to spread some Christmas cheer.”

Businesses included; AG Media Agency, Bayou Beat News, Lamik Beauty, Hodges Communications Group LLC, Grubido, Doss Couture, Unity National Bank, TAS Realty and Alibaster INC.

“Community partnerships are very important to us at Unity National Bank, said Unity National Bank, V.P. of Business Development, Sheri Lawal-Price. “It is the foundation of who we are and this event was a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our commitment to the community and the small businesses that serve.”

Prior to the unveiling, the participating students participated in a rocket launch to Santa at MC Williams Middle School. The students spent the day building rockets with their families and writing their Christmas wishes to Santa. The wishes were attached to the rocket and launched.

The students were not aware that their wishes would be seen and that the businesses would help to make their Christmas wishes come true.

“This was a true blessing,” said Rickie Bradford, a father of eight and youth pastor who has been laid off due to COVID-19. “We have a large family and it’s hard right now. The kids will be happy to see all of the gifts and to have something to open.”

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