INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — As a result of the 12th Annual Back to School Drive, the first day of school will be a little easier for approximately 800 local children. On Saturday morning, they received backpacks filled with new school supplies that were distributed at the Indian River Sheriff’s Department. The effort was coordinated by the Gifford Youth Activity Center, River Fund/Feed Everyone, By the River, the Sheriff’s Office and the Visiting Nurse Association.
Various sponsors had donated money, school supplies, nutritious snacks and water to help make the event a success.
“And labor; lots of labor,” added Alfonso Chester, GYAC Program Director.
Schools had given organizers lists to indicate the types of supplies typically needed for each grade, from kindergarten through 12th grade. Long lines of people, organized by grade levels, waited patiently in the hot morning sun, and by about 10:30 a.m. most of the backpacks had been given out.
“We try to get as close as possible to the full lists, and then put everything into backpacks that the kids can take to school,” explained Chester.
In addition to the backpacks, families enjoyed activities for children such as face painting, informative booths with product samples, a ZumbaWorks demonstration and healthy snacks.
“The place was totally packed,” said an enthusiastic Patti Rooney of By the River. “We gave away most everything.”
Donations of supplies including paper, tablets, pencils, pens, 3-ring binders, erasers, folders with pockets, crayons, etc., are still being accepted. Monetary contributions are especially appreciated to reimburse for supplies already purchased by the non-profit organizations. They estimate that the supplies cost approximately $35 per backpack.
Ananda Devi with the River Fund/Feed Everyone commented on the sense of pride the children feel after getting their backpacks.
“I was a child who didn’t have anything” said Devi. “Now more than ever, we wanted to make sure that everyone has what they need. The children stand up straight with pride, when they leave with their backpacks.”
Cathy Dusseau of the VNA was all smiles as she left the event saying happily, “It was a huge success!”
Donations of money and new school supplies may be dropped off at the Gifford Youth Activity Center, the Sheriff’s Department, Indian River County North and South County Libraries, the Gifford Church, Living Lord Lutheran Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Comcast Vero Beach, Eye Clinic of Vero Beach (Miracle Mile), Christ by the Sea and Curves in Sebastian.