A child’s dreams shouldn’t be defined by their family’s financial circumstances. Lipman Family Farms opens doors for thousands of Immokalee-area children through the Lipman Family Farms Backpack Giveaway, an annual event now in its eighth year that provides free school supplies and other tools of success. Thanks to generous donations and community support, this year’s giveaway, set for Aug. 3 from 9 a.m. to noon at Immokalee High School, is poised to be the most prolific yet.
“When you see the gratitude in the eyes of the children who come out, you understand why we put this together,” said Jaime Weisinger, Director of Community and Government Relations for Lipman Family Farms, America’s largest open-field tomato grower. “It’s important to everyone at Lipman Family Farms to help these kids get where they’re going.”
Ellerman and Pedro Mateo went a long way in part because of the help they received from Lipman Family Farms. The brothers who grew up in Immokalee attend prestigious Massachusetts prep schools this year. It was a boost to their confidence just knowing that they had a community behind them, said Pedro, who attended Immokalee High School before transferring to prep school in Boston.
“I feel joy that the Immokalee community and Lipman are uniting for the purpose of serving the community and its inhabitants. Raising funds for backpacks may seem miniscule in terms of the many problems within the community, but it allows for a sense of support,” he said. “This event allows people the chance to seek support and to understand that problems are not solved instantaneously, but one step at a time.”
Pedro helped assemble the backpacks a few years ago, and this year, volunteers from Lipman Family Farms and the surrounding communities will fill them with items such as notebooks, folders, crayons, glue, pencils and pens during a stuffing party on July 19. A litany of supporters and sponsors are getting involved, including the Harry Chapin Food Bank, which will provide food at the event on Aug. 3.
“This effort is gathering momentum, and for good reason,” Weisinger said. “Every child deserves a fair chance at success.”
Students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to collect their backpack and supplies. School supplies will be available for every child who attends between 9 a.m. and noon. Call 239-657-4421 for answers to any questions about the event or to find out how to help.