23rd annual Big Backpack Event provides free school supplies, groceries to families

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Big Backpack Event
Backpacks ready to be given away during the Big Backpack Event in Fort Myers. (Credit: WINK News)

The first day of school is just a few short weeks away, and on Sunday, the 23rd annual Big Backpack Event is helping provide kids with free school supplies. The event is sponsored by WINK News.

The first 3,000 students between the ages of five and 12 got a new backpack and school supplies, including notebook paper, crayons, pens, pencils, and more.

Originally, there were 2,000 backpacks to be given away to students, but the Lee County Sheriff’s Office decided to help out as well and donated another thousand backpacks.

Over 100 volunteers and 4 law enforcement agencies helped out.

The first 1,000 families received grocery bags full of food, including kid-friendly items like peanut butter, jelly, and mac and cheese.

Laura, a Lee County resident said everything’s expensive now, so anything helps.

“With everything, especially inflation and all the prices going up on everything,” Laura said.

Sunday’s event was held at the Skatium in Fort Myers.

On Saturday, more than 50 volunteers stuffed those 3,000 backpacks and 1,000 grocery bags that will be handed out.

Leonardo Garcia, the founder of the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida, and the man in charge of Sunday’s event, talked about how it started 23 years ago.

“When we established the multicultural center, we wanted to contribute with the different cultures in our community, and what is the best way to support the children, no matter where you come from Hispanic, non-Hispanic, to support with the education, and at the same time, show the different folklores dances and languages that we speak in Southwest Florida,” said Garcia.

The event’s goal was to help students and families in need, but Garcia said it’s not just about handing out school supplies.

“The Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida. I founded that 24 years ago with the idea to promote multiculturalism and for my service for you, but at the same time to do something good for the children of our community, to invest in them, that way they can become future leaders of the community with a mind open to all the different cultures that we have in Southwest Florida,” said Garcia.

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