Free backpacks and school supplies were available to all Cranston students this past Saturday at the YMCA in Cranston.
“This is the second year that Cranston has participated in this statewide program that distributes over 16,000 backpacks to Rhode Island students,” said Lammis Vargas, who is the site coordinator for the event, called the “Back to School Celebration.” She said that last year more than 1,000 backpacks were handed out in Cranston alone.
The backpacks were all new, and came 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.”
“This was 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,” said Vargas.
There were also free hot dogs, hamburgers, and water given out by Sodexo during the event, and there was also a live DJ for entertainment.
In addition, more local groups such as the Cranston Police and Fire Departments were there to connect with the community as well.
The Back to School Celebration of Rhode Island (BTSCRI) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization created to involve parents in the education of their children, thereby helping to create an atmosphere of trust and open communication between schools, students and families. In 1999, BTSCRI organized its first event in one single location and distributed 600 backpacks full of school supplies to school children in the Providence area.
Since then, BTSCRI has grown to 12 locations serving more than 134,000 children. Each site provided the space for community organizations and programs to connect families with services they may need to help with the education of their children. For more information, visit www.btscri.org.