backpack giveaway

Peoria Firefighter Charities is giving away backpacks filled with school supplies in a drive-thru giveaway at the Community Center parking lot from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 31.

Students must be present to receive a backpack and supplies are limited.

“The goal was to collect 500 backpacks with basic school supplies for any child in need in the Peoria Unified School District. So, (supplies) could be crayons, pencils, folders — the basics,” said Mark Barbee, spokesman for Peoria Firefighter Charities.

“We came together and thought about who in this school system needs the supplies, and a liaison from Peoria said, ‘Hey, I happen to work with foster and homeless kids in our system,’ and there’s about 200 to 250 families in that system, just for Peoria Unified School District. Initially, it was just to get those families the supplies they needed, but the charities wanted to go above and beyond.”

It started with Peoria Unified School District asking students to collect and donate backpacks and supplies at the end of the school year. Touched by the kids’ donations, the Peoria Firefighter Charities teamed up and matched them. Then, seeing the hard work and goals of the organization, Mayor Cathy Carlat and the city council also donated.

Having met and surpassed its goal of 500 backpacks, the charity is giving away the backpacks and supplies to any student in Peoria while supplies last.

Peoria Firefighter Charities is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose goal is to partner with community members to make a difference for those who “need it most,” according to its mission statement. They have raised over $20,000 since its founding in 2000.

“Every member of the Peoria Fire Department contributes money out of every paycheck in the (charity). Then we have events throughout the year where we add money to a community fund and those funds stay in the city of Peoria to help people in the city,” Barbee said.

On top of the firefighters’ contributions, Barbee said each council member donates $5,000 every year. School administrators will also join the firefighters in packing each backpack with supplies. Community members interested in helping out can donate at Donations are tax deductible.