PITTSFIELD — For some people, just the thought of going back to school or starting at a new one can make their palms sweat and stomach ache. Imagine how it much worse it would feel to have to go to school lacking the things you need.
To give local youths a fresh start with the new school year, David Dias, aka DJ Young Champ, and his philanthropic Young Champ Foundation are holding a series of events to help kids get a new look and a fresh set of school supplies.
On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., members of the Young Champ Foundation will be at the Rue 21 clothing store at Berkshire Crossing to collect donations of school supplies, new backpacks and book bags.
Anyone who has children entering pre-kindergarten through Grade 5, who contacts the foundation through youngchampfoundation.com, can register to receive a free backpack. The free backpack and school supplies giveaway will take place from noon to 3 p.m., on Aug. 25, at the Controy Pavilion, located in Burbank Park, at Onota Lake. Dias will be providing snacks, burgers and hot dogs, and there will be entertainment.
Then from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Sunday, Aug. 28, the Young Champ Foundation for a second consecutive year is partnering with Steve Vilot and Sim's Barbershop to offer free haircuts for boys and girls in the same pre-K through Grade 5 age group.
Dias said he's decided to do these events because of the undeniable demand.
Last year, on whim, he said, he decided to do a Christmas gift drive for kids and families who could not otherwise afford presents.
"I didn't realize how many people counted on me until Christmas. I think we did something like 200 families," said Dias.
He said Vilot and other people, businesses and agencies have been great supporters of the Young Champ Foundation's efforts. He said anyone in need, or anyone interested in partnering with his foundation to help kids and families are encouraged to reach out to him.
Dias said being prepared and outfitted with the things they need is important for kids.
"It sets your morale really high for the rest of the school year. You have everything, a new backpack, supplies. Your hair looks good. You're not getting picked on because you're broke or you're poor," Dias said.
He noted that the taunting happens less in the hallways and more so on social media.
"Kids need to look forward to something versus the same thing they're used to, which, for some kids, is getting nothing," Dias said. "I want kids to go back to school confident."
Young Champ Foundation Back to School events
Aug. 20: A school supply drive event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rue 21, Berkshire Crossing, 555 Hubbard Ave., Pittsfield. Donations needed include: backpacks and book bags, notebooks, binders, pens, pencils, markers, erasers, highlighters, loose leaf paper, rulers, non-toxic glue and glue sticks, scissors.
Aug. 25: Free backpack and school supplies giveaway, noon to 3 p.m., at the Controy Pavilion, Burbank Park at Onota Lake in Pittsfield. Families of children entering pre-K through Grade 5, can visit youngchampfoundation.com to register through the "contact us" form. All who register will be guaranteed a backpack. Additional supplies will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis.
Aug. 28: Free haircuts will be offered to youths entering pre-K through Grade 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Sim's Barbershop locations on North Street and Dalton Avenue, by registration at youngchampfoundation.com or stopping by on a first-come, first-served basis. Barbers and stylists for boys and girls will be donating their time and services.
For additional information and updates, visit facebook.com/youngchampfoundation or call 413-358-1799.