The happy faces of the more than 700 children who received free backpacks and school supplies at an event in Skyway on Saturday brought "healing" to Alajawan Brown's parents, who organized the event to honor their son who was shot to death two years ago at age 12.
Although Heaven King, 4, didn’t get everything she wanted — most notably a lollipop — she did get just about everything she needed.
Carrying a doll and a purse she’d brought from home, Heaven proudly modeled her new pink, name-brand backpack while her friend Charko Tucker, 7, showed off the pens, notebooks and other school supplies in her new Barbie backpack.
The girls were among the more than 700 students to receive school supplies Saturday at the first backpack giveaway sponsored by the Alajawan Brown Foundation and King County Fire District 20 in Skyway.
Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and the relief on those of their parents was a gift to Ayanna Brown, who started the foundation, also known as Alajawan’s Hands, in honor of her youngest son, Alajawan Brown.
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He was killed two years ago at age 12.
Alajawan, a happy, mischievous boy who loved school, football and working, was fatally shot in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven in Skyway when a gang member mistook him for a rival. Alajawan had just returned from buying a new pair of football cleats with money he’d spent months earning.
Curtis Walker, a 37-year-old gang member convicted of first-degree murder in Alajawan’s death, thought the youngster was a member of a rival group involved in a shootout minutes earlier. Walker was sentenced in March to 50 years in prison.
After the trial, Ayanna and her husband, Louis, cast around for a way to bring meaning to their son’s life and death, and hit upon the idea of the charity.
While their goal is to eventually be able to provide many opportunities for children — perhaps opening a community center, offering mentoring programs and paying for summer camp — the Browns’ short-term goal was to solicit donations of backpacks and school supplies for 1,000 children in their community.
As Ayanna Brown took items out of her son’s old backpack Saturday — the crayons he’d bought himself, a budget he’d drawn up so he could afford to play football, spelling words, a self-portrait — she talked about how much her son would have loved seeing all the happy faces.
“It’s wonderful. This is a lot of healing,” she said. “To see this come true is breathtaking.”
In addition to getting free backpacks, participants were also offered free haircuts, blood-pressure checks, chiropractic screenings, and a chance to be a “firefighter for a day,” according to Dave Nelson, a spokesman for King County Fire District 20.
“It’s been very helpful,” said Charko Hunter, who brought her three grandchildren to the event. “I spent all my money on bills, and this really comes at a good time.”
A father of two boys, who didn’t want to give his name, said the giveaway was more than just a financial boost. While school supplies are expensive, he said, what he values most is the feeling of excitement his children now have about starting school soon.
“When we moved to this country, my family was poor and my parents needed me to work. I want my children to want to stay in school,” he said.
King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, who represents the Skyway neighborhood, said, “This is so meaningful and so worth it. The Browns are creating a legacy for their son that is greater than anything they could have imagined.”
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or email@example.com