Despite this year’s circumstances, ECHO is still holding its annual back to school event next month, but with a twist.

By Dominique Asher

UPDATE:

The ECHO Back to School Carnival Car Cruise has been canceled due to concerns that there was not enough time to pre-register the students for the event. Instead, backpacks filled with school supplies and back-to-school food will be available at both the Riverview and Brandon campuses, and possibly area schools. For more information about the update, go to http://www.echofl.org/.

Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) is holding a Carnival Car Cruise, where students and families can drive through and pick up supplies needed for the school year, play games and more, all from their cars.

The drive-through Carnival Car Cruise will be held on Saturday, August 1 at the Bay Life Church, located at 1017 Kingsway Rd. in Brandon.

Families can sign up at ECHO of Brandon starting Monday, July 13 and should come prepared with a valid photo ID, proof of address and the student’s social security number.

“Our goal is to get students everything they need for back to school,” said Savanna Thompson, ECHO development coordinator.

In addition to the supply pickup, carnival-themed entertainment such as a magician, clown, contortionist, people dressed up, car games and more will be put on by ECHO student leaders as part of their Youth Leadership Program. To ensure safety, all the games and activities can be done or seen from the car.

“We want to keep it fun and entertaining while they are waiting in the car,” said Thompson.

The event is made possible through a grant from Suncoast Credit Union, which annually sponsors the group, and the Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring. With the money ECHO receives from the sponsors, the group is able to purchase the supplies and resources needed for the event.

ECHO also has partnered with the YMCA for the past few years to hold the event, which was previously held at Camp Christina. This year, the YMCA is delivering school supplies to local school social workers in an effort to reach struggling families who cannot make it to event due to hardships.

If you are looking to help, around 20 adult volunteers are needed, so contact
savanna@echofl.org to sign up. To learn more about ECHO and other events, go to www.echofl.org/.