Amaya’s Back to School event helps students get head start


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

She designed a shirt showing a Lockhart Lion encompassed by a large heart. Connie Amaya said it’s her heart, so it was not something she had in mind, rather something she wears daily for all to see.

Saturday, during the fifth annual Connie S. Amaya’s Back to School Free Backpack Drive, about 700 kids were served necessities to be successful for the 2023-24 school year. The event, the largest of the five held thus far, included surpassing 2,000 backpacks given away over that period.

“We’ve just spread the word,” Connie said as parents and children parked for several blocks around the AutoZone parking lot Saturday morning. People were lined up for almost two blocks, with five being let in at a time to choose their backpack design as well as stuffing them with school needs such as crayons, paper, tablets, pencils, markers, and other items.

“Being a Lockhart Lion is in my heart,” she said. “That’s why I put the heart on there. It’s my heart. My favorite saying is ‘Go Lions.’”

Amaya even showed several of the coupons she had received for 30 kids to get a “barber-style haircut.”

Amaya worked with the Lockhart ISD for 46 years, retiring two years ago. She said she worked closely with both the students and the families, gaining a passion for them to succeed. “I just saw the need, and I’ve stayed with them, too,” she said. “When the pandemic hit things got harder. I thought if there was something we could give the students to start their school year, it would help.”

Education is in her blood as well as her family, with many of those related to her help with the event.

Her brother, Ralph Salazar, worked for LISD for 42 years. He was an all-district quarterback for the Lions in 1964.

Her sisters, Janie Wright and Becky Lockhart were also with LISD. Wright is a former deputy superintendent. Her husband, Mike, is the current president of the LISD School Board. Lockhart also worked with LISD as well as Texas State University. Her husband, Sam, is on the LISD School Board.

“We have a large family and are really proud of each other,” Amaya said.

All of the people you see here are my family,” Connie Amaya said. “We have three or four generations helping. We have people in the parking lot to keep the kids safe,” she said. “We know that safety comes first.”

Her grandson, John Mathew Bernal, was helping organize matters Saturday morning.

Her husband, Louis, is from the Uvalde area and last year they also held a pair of special backpack giveaways for students there after the May 24, 2022, tragedy. Louis L. Amaya is a Vietnam Veteran.

The Amayas purchase all of the backpacks.

“I consider it a ministry,” Connie Amaya said.

There will be additional events in Lockhart this year in August and September where the Amayas will be partnering with other organizations.

“Right after this is over, we’ll start ordering backpacks for next year,” she said. “Everybody will be taken care of. It was really a necessity this year because the school district was not able to help. We’re just trying to make sure the kids have the supplies and backpacks they need.”

Connie Amaya said she believes the kids getting the items to prepare them for school helps their desire to succeed.

“When the kids come here, and they can pick out what they want, you can hear it in their voices.

“I’ve seen students come here for their first year. I had one girl that didn’t know how to speak English, but she had a big smile. We encourage them to attend school every day and make good grades. The following year, that girl came back and spoke English… and brought her friends with her.”


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