Monday, Nov 12, 2018
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Volunteers prepare thousands of backpacks for students in need


    Hundreds of colorful backpacks filled with school supplies stand ready to be delivered.

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    Candice Harrison, director of communications at the Toledo Museum of Art, writes personalized notes to put into backpacks for children to read during the second ‘Kickoff to Caring’ sponsored by the United Way at The Huntington Center. Hundreds of community volunteers helped to fill 5,000 backpacks with school supplies for local students in need.

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    United Way intern Rachel Standinger smiles at a friend while helping volunteers pack backpacks with school supplies during the second "Kickoff to Caring" sponsored by the United Way at The Huntington Center on Wednesday.

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    Crayons were one of many supplies put into backpacks during the second "Kickoff to Caring" sponsored by the United Way at The Huntington Center on Wednesday.

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    Romules Durant, superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, hugs one of the hundreds of community volunteers who helped to fill the backpacks in front of a UPS truck that will deliver them.

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Students usually spend summer vacations taking a break from the stress of school, but Grace and Andrew Rogers decided on Wednesday to give back to other students.

Grace Rogers, 14, who is a freshman at Perrysburg High School, said she heard about an event, Kickoff to Caring, through her church.

VIDEO: Volunteers prepare thousands of backpacks for students in need

GALLERY: United Way’s Kickoff to Caring event

“We’ve been getting into church more and we heard about this so we really wanted to help,” Grace said.

“I really like helping people. It makes me and the people I’m helping happy,” said her brother Andrew, 13, who is in the eighth grade at Perrysburg Middle School.

Roughly 1,000 volunteers packed the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo and filled more than 5,600 backpacks with school supplies, which will be distributed to elementary schools and nonprofit organizations to be made available to students in need.

Amanda Howard, 27, coordinator for the Kickoff for Caring event, said the turnout this year surpassed the one held last year.

“We’ve been trying to get the word out more and get started on planning early so that more people hear about this and help,” Ms. Howard said.

Last year, just under 1,000 volunteers packed roughly 5,000 backpacks.

Places where the backpacks will be available include Birmingham Elementary, Garfield Elementary, Navarre Elementary, YWCA Battered Women’s shelter, and the Aurora Project.

The volunteers came from 90 companies and nonprofit organizations including Lathrop Co., Dana Inc., Cedar Creek Church, Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois Inc., and Cornerstone Church.

The United Way started the event after Toledo Public Schools learned it would no longer receive a grant to aid homeless students with their school supplies.

Although TPS announced this week it would receive the grant again, the United Way will continue to hold the event, according to Lucas Stall, a spokesman at the United Way.

“We extend to much more than just Toledo Public Schools now, and we’re just trying to give to as many students as we can,” Mr. Stall said.

Ty Boyd, 35, a volunteer, said these types of events are important to the community.

“It’s not about the book bags. It’s about all these people working together to help a child get a good education. A book bag can change a life,” Mr. Boyd said.

If any student or family has a question on how to receive a backpack, organizers ask them to call 211.

Contact Valentin Ornelas, Jr., at: or 419-724-6050.

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