The dog days of the preseason are upon us. While that signifies the approaching start of football season, it also means another annual milestone is coming: back to school.
As students across New England prepare to head back to the classroom this fall, it's going to be an even more complex transition than usual. After remote and hybrid learning throughout the 2020 school year, teachers and students are facing even more needs to make classrooms safe and to make sure everyone has what they need.
Recently, Lawrence Guy and his family, as well as the Patriots Foundation, stepped up to make sure local students were walking into school with all of the supplies they would need.
On Friday, Aug. 13, Lawrence and his wife Andrea hosted a backpack giveaway for students with The Key Program and Crossroads. This annual event helps kids feel ready and confident heading into the school year. This is even more important after the 2020 school year.
"I think it's important that this year they have all the tools to be able to just focus on learning and interacting with other children," Andrea said. "School is a safe haven for a lot of children, and we wanted to make sure that they had all the tools to be able to succeed this year without worrying about what they need for the classroom."
Lawrence was able to say hello to the students who came to Gillette Stadium, and he offered some advice during a question and answer session. The biggest takeaway: don't be afraid to ask for help.
"The only way you can succeed at being a better you is to ask for help. There's nobody that can tell you that you're less than or different," Lawrence said. "Go ask the teacher, supervisor or somebody for a little bit of help with schoolwork and the issues that you're having. People that look out for the best interest for you are the people that are willing to take the extra time to make sure you're okay."
On Monday, Aug. 16, the Patriots Program and the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation picked up where the Guys and the Key Program left off.
For two days, volunteers joined an organized assembly line in the Foxborough Terminals next door to Gillette Stadium. They slipped notebooks, pens, pencils, soap and more into new backpacks. The goal, according to Josh Kraft, was to pack 30,000 backpacks over the course of the two days.
Kraft said something as simple as school supplies can change a child's attitude as they head back to school.
"I think it's the little things like this that lead to big things," he said. "If kids feel good about it with everything they're receiving to kick off the school year, it'll make that sense of being in school, that sense of belonging and learning that much more powerful for them."
While it's powerful for the kids who will be getting the backpacks, it also was powerful for those volunteering as well. It was a real team effort with everyone from former offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to alumni players Ed Ellis and Ronnie Lippett.
"I look at these people kicking butt," he said. "It's the little things in every backpack that gets filled. A person is actually reaching out to the kid the pack goes to ... Retired coaches, players, cheerleaders, people who work at the stadium. It's just a great sense of community."