By Staff Report

Once again, the Tampa YMCA is teaming up with Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) to help Brandon area students in grades Kindergarten through twelfth with backpacks stuffed with essential supplies for the school year. The Backpack Outreach event is designed for pre-registered families facing financial hardship or recovering from job loss, fire or other qualifying emergency. The Y is committed to providing kids with the tools they need to succeed in school. Thanks to ECHO and other community partners, the Tampa Y can provide more children the opportunity to start school with the resources to be successful. It is part of the Y’s efforts to close the academic achievement gap between children from lower-income households and their middle/upper-income peers.

The Backpack event will take place on Saturday, August 15 from 9-11 a.m. at Camp Cristina and is only open to families who pre-register. Each registered child will receive a free backpack filled with age-appropriate school supplies. During the event, families will also participate in free health screenings, arts and crafts and giveaways.

According to the Tampa Y’s Communication Director, Lalita Llerena, “The school supply list can be overwhelming for many families, especially those from low-income households. These backpacks carry more than school supplies; they help kids reach their full potential. The Y believes all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve, regardless of income or background. School readiness and success, as well as an enthusiasm for learning, are key focus areas of the Y’s youth development work. In partnership with ECHO, we’re giving kids the tools and motivation to succeed in school and life. This is our 17th year of hosting this event and every year it leaves a bigger impact on the community.”

The YMCA is seeking donations of backpacks, composition notebooks, college-rule paper, wide-rule paper and rulers. A $20 cash donation helps send one student back to school with a backpack full of supplies. Drop off locations are the YMCA Camp Cristina, Camp Family YMCA and North Brandon Family YMCA. Checks can be made out to Campo YMCA and should reference “backpack event.”

For more information on the area YMCA’s visit

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