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Adopt-A-Student fundraiser under way for Big Backpack Event
June 24, 2020

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This year's Adopt-A-Student fundraiser is officially under way for the Big Backpack Event, returning for its 21st year to support more than 2,000 students in need.

Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida Founder Leonardo Garcia said the Big Backpack Event is the largest event of its kind in the area. He said the event provides assistance for students by giving them a backpack and school supplies, such as notebook paper, folders, Crayola crayons, Elmer's glue, pencils and pens.

Garcia said they hope to also provide some kind of food and hand sanitizer to help protect the students when they return to school.

This is the first year they are holding the event "curbside," which Garcia believes is going to be a big event based on the need of the community due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We didn't want to cancel it, especially with a need so critical. I think we are going to have a lot of people come ... come in cars, walking," he said, adding that they will proceed with safety for everyone -- volunteers and those coming for assistance. "We want people to be very comfortable."

To provide assistance to more than 2,000 students, Garcia said the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida needs to raise around $30,000.

"We plan for 2,000 (students, but if) we see a greater need, we can increase that. We always try for 2,000," he said.

For just $10, an individual can Adopt-A-Student. One-hundred percent of that donation will go towards purchasing a new backpack and school supplies.

"We thank everyone that has supported us in the past and if they can continue to support it would be even greater," Garcia said. "I know some people are hurting and we understand those who cannot continue to support us. I know we are going through unchartered waters this year."

He wanted to make sure the community knows not to feel bad if they cannot offer support this year, but if they can, it will be greatly appreciated.

The community can support the fundraising goal by visiting www.multicutural-centre.org and clicking on donate. Fundraising will continue until the middle of July.

He said the spirit of people really comes to life when others are in need.

The community can also give back by volunteering. Garcia said every year they utilize approximately 400 volunteers. Although he does not know how many volunteers they will need this year, he encourages individuals to also explore the volunteer section on the website.

"The community every year makes things happen. We are all volunteers. Everyone involved has a passion to help the students, so we are all volunteers," Garcia said.

This year the Big Backpack Event, which is held for Lee County school children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old, will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, July 26, at the Fort Myers Skatium, 2250 Broadway, Fort Myers.

This year, instead of students and their families entering the Skatium to pick out their backpack and school supplies, the student and their parents will experience the Big Backpack Event curbside.

As the recipients in the line of cars wait to receive their goodies, they will be entertained by jugglers, clowns, mascots, deejays, live music and emcees from local TV stations along the street and the sidewalks.

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