As the dawn of the 2019-2020 school year approaches, the Safeway Foundation wants to make sure that young people in the District have the resources they need in order to succeed.
In order to facilitate that, the foundation held its third annual Safeway Foundation School Spirit Campaign pep rally on Aug. 6 in the store located in Petworth. Rally participants included former Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss and two Redskins cheerleaders, Jackie Parker and Christal Mirabal, as well as leaders and personalities of local media outlets such as Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes.
Matthew Boyd, Safeway’s vice president of merchandise and marketing, emceed the event. He thanked the crowd of 40 for joining him and explained the purpose of the rally.
“Today, we’re celebrating school spirit and the spirit of giving here at Safeway,” Boyd said. “With the help of our partners the Washington Redskins, Fox 5, El Zol Radio, WPGC, The Drive, The Washington Informer and El Tiempo Latino, our School Spirit campaign is raising awareness and raising funds to support our local schools.”
There are 11 Safeways in the District, with two operating East of the Anacostia River in Ward 7. Each of the District Safeways, through the foundation, has adopted a neighborhood public school to provide resources and support.
Boyd said, “we believe that every student should have access to an education that prepares them to succeed in school and in life.”
“That’s why we created the Safeway Foundation School Spirit Campaign,” he said. “Throughout the month of August, our stores in Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and Delaware are fundraising on behalf of 112 schools. We are spreading the word through TV, radio, newspaper, digital media and events like this, and we’d like to ask all of you to help too. Ask your friends and neighbors to stop by their local Safeway to donate to their local school.”
In the case of the Petworth store, Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School will be the recipient of funds that are raised there. That excited Anne Carter, a 1966 graduate of Roosevelt and a former educator in D.C. Public Schools.
“I am supporting this event because it is about young people getting the resources to go to school,” Carter said. “There is so much attention focused on the young people who don’t want to do right. There are young kids who are doing the right things and they need support. This is an excellent idea.”
Roosevelt’s principal, Justin Ralston, embraced the foundation’s support, saying “I want to thank the Petworth Safeway store for raising funds on behalf of our school.”
“Theodore Roosevelt High School values all students’ unique talents and encourages and challenges students to become intellectually curious, world language proficient, internationally aware and globally responsive,” Ralston said. “At Theodore Roosevelt High School, Safeway is more than our local supermarket-you are our friends and neighbors. And today, our schools need friends more than ever.”
Roosevelt has a noted history in the District, with its opening in 1932 as an institution for white students only but became one of the first schools to integrate in 1953. Its alumni include former D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt, former D.C. Council member and president of Southeastern University Charlene Drew Jarvis, the late Abe Pollin, owner of the Washington Wizards and Capitals, legendary entertainer Kate Smith and prominent public radio host Diane Rehm.
Barnes, who noted that The Washington Informer ”has been a part of Washington, D.C., life since 1964″ said “as a newspaper and multimedia company, educating our neighbors and supporting our community are the forefront of what we do every day.”
Moss acknowledged Ralston and Roosevelt students and talked about how football and getting an education became hallmarks in his life.
“Playing football taught me to compete, how to be a part of a team, how to win with pride and how to sometimes lose with humility,” he said. “I loved playing football and I love learning just as much. In school, I learned valuable things about myself and the world around me. And I learned how to work hard and play hard.
“So I want you to know that I really believe in the value of education,” he said. “I’m so glad to join all of you in demonstrating our commitment to education. With everyone’s help, Safeway Foundation’s School Spirit Campaign can achieve victory.”
As the program proceeded, Betty Horn visited the various booths with her three grandsons. Horn expressed excitement about the foundation’s support of Roosevelt.
“I support what Safeway is doing,” she said. “It is good to see the Redskins here too.”
Sonserria Coats brought her two sons, Adam and Ziare, to the program and sighed when she realized that most of the program had taken place. Still, Coats said, “it was good” that Safeway supports young people such as her sons.
Ziare, who attends Roosevelt, stated he was ready for the school year to start and didn’t have any public safety fears about his institution.
“I feel safe at Roosevelt,” he said. “I’m not worried about that.”