22nd annual Big Backpack Event to provide school supplies, food to children

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Volunteer Cindy Lastovica loaded backpacks filled with school supplies into a parent’s car during the 2020 BIG Backpack Event

The Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida has announced it will host its popular Big Backpack Event for the 22nd year on Sunday, July 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fort Myers Skatium located at 2250 Broadway.

The drive-thru curbside event will serve the first 2,000 students ages 5 to 12 with new backpacks, school supplies, and food.

In an effort to maintain health and safety, parents and students will be asked to remain in their vehicles as they approach the Skatium.

They will be greeted by the sights and sounds of live music and street performers to celebrate back-to-school. Children must accompany parents or guardians in the vehicle in order for them to receive backpacks.

Each vehicle will be directed by volunteers to slowly drive forward and pop their trunk, where volunteers will place new backpacks, essential school supplies, and grocery bags of food.

No event activities will be held inside the Skatium and no parking will be permitted. Families who arrive by bus or on foot will be able to receive backpacks for their children in a designated area outside the main entrance of the Skatium.

“The Big Backpack Event curbside distribution went so smoothly for families, volunteers and event organizers last year that we decided to replicate it this year,” says event public relations and marketing chair Connie Ramos-Williams, president of CONRIC pr + marketing.

Yadi Perez volunteers to pack recycled grocery bags with food to distribute to families at the 2020 BIG Backpack Event.

Nearly 40,000 backpacks have been distributed to families over the event’s 21-year history. The event draws thousands of people in attendance each year, with the largest crowd reaching 15,000 during the height of the recession back in 2008. An estimated 80+ percent of Lee County children currently qualify for free or reduced meal programs at their schools.

Thanks to the generosity of individual and corporate event sponsors, the Big Backpack Event will provide much-needed economic relief, supplying children with new backpacks filled with pencils, pens, paper, crayons, folders and other essential back-to-school items.

Event sponsors include presenting sponsor Neal Communities, WINK News, News-Press, Family News, Community Cooperative, Molina Healthcare, and CONRIC pr + marketing.

“I am fortunate to have a dedicated and loyal event committee who works tirelessly to organize and host this event each year,” says Leonardo Garcia, Executive Director of the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida. “These children are our motivation. No one wants to see any child go back to school without a new backpack and school supplies.”

For more information about the event, sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, visit multicultural-centre.org or email info@multicultural-centre.org.

Volunteers get ready to load new backpacks filled with school supplies and grocery bags into the trunks of parents vehicles at the 2020 Multicultural Centre of SWFL BIG Backpack Event

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