Thousands get free school supplies from Big Backpack Event
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Jul. 21, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - It's Christmas in July.
Thousands of smiling faces poured into the Harborside Event Center to get a free backpack filled with school supplies.
"I got a folder, paper, glue, pencils," first-grader Justin Miller said.
It's all thanks to the 14th annual Big Backpack Event, which gives families in need free supplies and services to help get the kids ready to go back to school.
"A lot of our families have the cards stacked against them and if we can give them some supplies we can shuffle that deck and have them just like everybody else," Dr. Ruthie Lohmeyer, Principal at Alternative Learning Center Central and LAMP School, said.
Some families lined up as early as 5 a.m. for the event, and by lunch time, the line still crawled around the entire building.
Jocelyn Chavez, who is going into 11th grade, was waiting with her family. She said the wait is worth it.
"I mean, it's free, who doesn't like free stuff," Chavez said.
All the supplies were donated by Walmart and local sponsors. The first 2,500 students got backpacks filled with $30 worth of school supplies. They also enjoyed free eye exams, haircuts and entertainment.
Mom Joanie Rodriguez brought her two daughters to the event.
"It's a little chaotic, but it's very helpful especially if you're having trouble getting money for school supplies, so it's very helpful," Rodriguez said.
Her girls also both got back-to-school haircuts.
"They are very excited, it gets them geared up and ready to go," Rodriguez said.
Lee County schools start back up August 8.