More than100 volunteers helped give out backpacks and school supplies at the back-to-school event held at Camp Cristina earlier this month.

Earlier this month, the community came together to help distribute 1,254 backpacks and school supplies to area children. Another 272 children received backpacks later in the month. The back-to-school event was held at the Camp Cristina in Riverview. The event was a cooperative effort involving Brandon area Y’s, the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO), area churches and many other community businesses and groups.

Sponsors of the event included businesses such as Walmart (Bloomingdale store), which donated more than 90 cases of water; HSBC and Citicorp, which collected backpacks and school supplies; The Glazer Family Foundation and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which donated backpacks; The Knights of St. John (Hillsborough County Firefighters), which collected backpacks and supplies and the FishHawk Area Networking Group (FANG), which helped collect supplies at its 10th Annual Back To School Festival and donated $1,000 to the Campo Family Y to purchase backpacks. Local hairstylists, including several from Manhattan Hairstyling Academy, were on-hand to provide free haircuts. Children also received free toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union Foundation gave ECHO a grant for $5,000 which allowed ECHO to donate backpacks to the event as well as provide backpacks, school supplies and shoe vouchers to clients during the month of August. Volunteers from Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union came to the back-to-school event and volunteered their time to help area children get the supplies they need to succeed in school.

“ECHO’s back-to-school program aligns with our mission to provide children and families with the basic tools to excel in school,” said May Tlachac, executive director of Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union Foundation. “Students can feel confident going back to school this year with proper necessities such as book bags, shoes, socks, clothing and food,” added Tlachac.

Stacey Efaw, executive director of ECHO said, “This is the second year that ECHO and theBrandonarea YMCA’s have combined their forces to help provide many children in our community with the necessary tools for starting back to school.” Efaw added, “This event has truly been a community event. Numerous people have volunteered and donated items to make this all possible.”

For more information on ECHO, please visit For more information on Tampa area Y’s, please visit


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