PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Community members came out to show their love for the city’s south side Saturday afternoon.

Dozens packed the old ALDI parking lot on 210 S. Western Avenue for the inaugural “We Love the Southside Community School Supplies Giveaway” event.

Families and kids were able to enjoy video games and a bounce house as well as get free laptops, tablets, uniforms provided by Old Navy, backpacks, and school supplies.

Participating sponsors and vendors also included Raber Packing Co, Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity (PCCEO), Tropical Sno Peoria, and Fun on the Run.

Marques Smith, a resident officer on the south side, said it took about two months to organize the event.

“I just wanted to give back to the Southside community,” Smith said. “I think that everybody coming out here and getting everything that they need, most importantly, that’s what makes me happy as a resident officer on the south side.”

Smith said often times the city’s south side gets a bad reputation and he wanted to show those in thh area can come together for positivity.

“For me, just making sure the community comes together and stays in tact and trying, most importantly, to bridge the communication between us and the community.” Smith said. “Between the police, which is us, and the community that’s my biggest thing and, I like I said, hopefully people feel comfortable enough to come to me for anything that they need to come talk to me about. I’m here if anybody needs me.”

He said he’s also grateful they were able to help take some of the financial strain off of parents who are still back to school shopping. Smith said he’s looking forward to holding the event annually going forward.