Due to rising inflation, the number of families living below poverty level and facing a hunger crisis continue to grow. In response, the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida has reached out to partner with several area agencies and businesses to increase its support of students and families at the 23rd Annual BIG Backpack Event taking place on Sunday, July 24, from 11 to 2 at the Fort Myers Skatium located at 2250 Broadway. Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson is the 2022 Honorary Event Chair. The founder of the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida Leonardo Garcia and president of CONRIC pr + marketing are the Event Co-Chairs.
“The cost of living is at an all-time high, making it even harder for families to afford the rising cost of backpacks, school supplies and other necessities young students need to be successful as they head back to school this year,” said Ramos-Williams. “This year we will be able to provide families even greater support at the event thanks to our collaboration with local agencies and businesses who have stepped up to help.”
As in years past, the first 2,000 children ages 5 to 12 will receive free backpacks filled with school supplies that include notebook paper, crayons, pens, pencils, glue sticks, folders and more. Parents and guardians will be able to drive-up with their children and pick up these backpacks and other giveaways curbside. Children must be present to receive the backpacks. In addition, the following items will also be provided this year:
- The first 1,000 families will receive a grocery bag full of kid-friendly food such as peanut butter, jelly, macaroni and cheese, pasta and spaghetti sauce thanks to the support of Community Cooperative;
- An additional 1,000 children will receive backpacks filled with school supplies donated by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and
- Free on-site vaccines mandatory for incoming 7th grade students will be provided by Lee County Health Department in a mobile unit located outside the Skatium.
“Also, for the first time in the event’s 23-year history, twenty police officers from the Dominican Republic will be on-hand to help distribute backpacks and food,” said Event Co-Chair and Founder of the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida Leonardo Garcia.
Organizers say additional volunteers are still needed to stuff backpacks and grocery bags on Saturday, July 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fort Myers Skatium, as well as to distribute backpacks and groceries on July 24, the day of the event, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Volunteers are asked to sign up online.
The Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida’s Annual BIG Backpack Event is made possible thanks to the generosity of corporate and individual sponsors and donations. Presenting sponsor Neal Communities has broken previous years’ records, donating nearly $25,000 to support the 2022 event. Additional sponsors include: Fort Myers Broadcasting, News-Press, Lee County Family News, Comcast, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Community Cooperative, HABA, CONRIC pr + marketing, City of Fort Myers, Lee County School District and Children Medical Services Health Plan.
The event provides much needed economic relief to our community. With an estimated 80 percent of Lee County children who qualify for free or reduced meal programs at their schools, the need is high and support such as this is beneficial to families.
Over 40,000 backpacks have been distributed to families over the event’s history. For more information about the event, sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, visit www.multicultural-centre.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida is a private 501(c)(3)