chicago news

Back-to-school giveaway honors fallen Chicago Police Officer Areanah Preston

Free backpacks, notebooks and pencils were given out at a back-to-school giveaway hosted by the Peace for Preston Foundation, which was named for fallen Chicago Police Officer Areanah Preston

NBC Universal, Inc.

A special back-to-school giveaway was held on Saturday afternoon in Chicago's Avalon Park neighborhood in memory of fallen police officer Areanah Preston.

“It’s always been Areanah’s thing. She was a giver and what better way than to give back to the community something that she loved, she loved education,” said her mom Dionne Mhoon.

Mhoon started the Peace For Preston Foundation to honor her daughter’s memory. Officer Preston was killed during an attempted armed robbery in May just days before she was set to receive her master’s degree from Loyola University.

“The goal initially was 200 backpacks. We doubled it, so that’s amazing especially for the first year,” Mhoon said. “It’s very special, and I know Areanah is shining down on us, excited and happy that we’re giving back in her honor.”

Newly-named Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling stopped by the event to show support. He met with CPS families as they prepare for the upcoming school year.

“It’s a beautiful thing for the neighborhood,” said one resident, Manuelita Martinez. “It’s a beautiful thing to see the police involved in their neighborhood.”

Kids of all ages walked away with free book bags, notebooks, and pencils.

Earlier in the day, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson joined Rep. Danny Davis for his 43rd annual Back-to-School Picnic and Parade in Austin. Miles away at Saint Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, a summer block party and community resource fair sought to get families pumped up for the new school year.

Kids there enjoyed a day of fun in the bouncy house, face painting, haircuts,and other giveaways. Organizers said the event helped to ease the financial burden on so many families.

While kids were trying to enjoy their last weekend before the first day of school, residents in Avalon Park sent their well wishes to families.

“I want to say its probably going to be a tough school year,” said Lesley Butler, who is a Chicago police officer. “But just remember keep the faith, be good, be great, do good, do good things.”

“I just want everyone to have a safe school year and happy school year,” said Martinez. “Just be safe.”

As for the Peace For Preston Foundation, Mhoon said the organization's goal now is to raise money to build a community center.

Contact Us