PeaceNPhilly(@PeaceNPhilly) x Nehemiah Davis Foundation(@NeoDaviso) x(@DTE__Tree) Bookbag Extravaganza [PHOTOS]
Photos By Vernon Ray of CreativeMindProductions
It was a Sunday in the park for children in West Philadelphia, a day of free cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, and pony rides.
Five barbers gave dozens of boys free haircuts, and the girls got complimentary manicures and jewelry-making lessons to craft their own bracelets.
About 300 youngsters who came to Malcolm X Park at 51st and Pine Streets received complimentary school backpacks filled with notebooks, pencils, glue sticks, folders, and paints – everything they might need for the first day of classes.
The outpouring of community spirit was the work of a young entrepreneur, Nehemiah Davis, 25, who for three summers has hosted a back-to-school celebration, giving away book bags and school supplies to youths in West Philadelphia.
Hundreds of children and families were there, and dozens of others donated time and services. The backpacks, and all of the items in them, were provided by individual donors.
Two years ago, Davis created a nonprofit organization bearing his name. His efforts began in 2008, when he and his family began feeding the homeless in Philadelphia. “We continued to build from there,” he said.
Every Monday, Davis, his mother, grandmother, and twin sisters, 13, hand out meals to homeless men and women at 18th and Vine Streets, across from Philadelphia Family Court.
“Last week, we barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers,” said Davis’ mother, Myra Grant. “I made a tuna fish and macaroni salad. One of our volunteers brought pizza, and another volunteer brought homemade lemonade.”
To pay for the food, Davis uses some proceeds from his businesses: a T-shirt company and a junk-removal firm.
He also gets a lot of donations. “Sometimes, people say, ‘Hey, I want to buy the pizza this week.’ And we allow that.”
The back-to-school extravaganza was just one of several that Davis’ foundation sponsors.
Each December, there’s a Christmas party with toys for the children at a recreation center in his Overbrook neighborhood. At Thanksgiving, he and volunteers serve a holiday dinner to 200 homeless people from around the city, and at Easter, there is an egg hunt.
Last winter, Davis and his helpers took 50 inner-city youths on a ski trip to Spring Mountain, Pa.
“It’s something that’s definitely needed for the community,” said Janelle Williams of Wynnefield, who brought her two nephews. She said Davis was a role model who is giving back to the community he came from.