Over 1,000 free backpacks to be handed out at the Y this Saturday

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Free backpacks and school supplies will be available to all Cranston students this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the YMCA located on Gansett Ave.

Lammis Vargas, who is the site coordinator for the event, called the “Back to School Celebration,” and is also a candidate for City Council, said she is still looking for volunteers to help out on Saturday. Those who want to volunteer can contact her at 865-0509 or lammis.vargas@gmail.com.

Vargas said this is the second year that Cranston has participated in this statewide program that distributes over 16,000 backpacks to Rhode Island students. She said that last year over 1,000 backpacks were handed out in Cranston alone.

The backpacks are brand new, and usually come stuffed with notepads, pens and pencils, reading books, folders, and rulers, according to “Back to School Celebration” spokesperson Doris De Los Santos.

“The whole idea behind this is to support families that may be struggling financially,” De Los Santos said. “But it’s also to celebrate the beginning of the new school year and to connect families with resources within the community and the school district.”

Vargas said that it is a true community event, with a variety of booths set up at the Y from different companies and organizations in the state. Those include Comprehensive Community Action Program, the American Cancer Society, Neighborhood Health Plan, the Girl Scouts, United Way, and Cox Communications.

Vargas said there will also be free hot dogs, hamburgers, and water given out by Sodexo during the event, and there will also be a live DJ there as well.

In addition, more local groups like Cranston Polce and Fire will be there to connect with the community as well.

She said the event, which goes on rain or shine, aims to show parents what resources are available to them and their kids as they enter the new school year. They also, of course, get a brand new back pack for free.

For volunteers wishing to help, the plan would be to get there around 8:30 a.m. Saturday and set up the tables, then help with the distribution of the backpacks and school supplies during the event. She said with more than a thousand of people showing up last year, she expects another big turnout this year and is excited for the community event.

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