ROANOKE, Va. – We are just a few days away from the first day of school in Roanoke City.
A new event called Grades Over Guns pops up Saturday to help set students up for success.
Kicking off with music and dance performances, it’s the last hurrah for Roanoke City students before they head back to school.
Nearly a dozen vendors lined Eureka Park to offer savory and sweet treats.
But afterwards, children grinned when they got to pick out their own bookbag.
“It means the world to me,” Jason Hariston said.
Hairston created the Grades Over Guns event to pay homage to Eureka Park. But mainly help students in the area get ready for a successful start.
“When I was younger I remember coming to this center and this center does not get used as much as it should get used by the community,” he said.
With gun violence still on the rise, Hariston said he wants to remind the youth to focus on getting good grades.
“All the kids I come in contact with I just have love for them,” he said. “I want them to understand that the violence that goes on in the city is not something they have to be apart of.”
Organizations like RESET and FED UP came with one main message; put down the guns.
“The more we can instill in them at a younger age the better when they grow up and go through school they will understand the impact that gun violence does,” Rita Joyce, president of Fed Up, said. “Hopefully, just learn it at a younger age when their ears are tender that it will instill and stay with them.”
Hariston plans to host another gathering in January to help students prepare for the second semester.