Backpacks readied for giveaway

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Wilson County Schools’ Operation Backpack has met its goal.

More than 3,000 backpacks lined the bleachers on one side of the Fike High School gymnasium as the last of the donated packs arrived for Saturday’s giveaway.

“It has gone amazing, as it always has for the last eight years,” said Amber Lynch, public relations director for Wilson County Schools and an organizer for the drive. “We are going to hit our goal of 3,000 backpacks. You always wonder are we going to get there and every year, the community responds. The outpouring of love and support for our students is just incredible every year.”

The year’s giveaway will be held from 9-11 a.m. Saturday at Fike.

Students who attend one of the 26 public schools in the district are eligible to receive backpacks. All styles and colors are available, pinks and reds and blues, solid colors and patterns. Some are in camouflage and some have movie themes.

“They get all excited when they get to pick it out,” Lynch said. “It’s something that is truly theirs. It also means that they are prepared.”

Offering the free backpacks eases the financial burden families face at the beginning of the school year.

“A backpack with supplies is about $20 and if you have multiple children, that is a big saving,” Lynch said. “We know the burden that’s put on families. I have two kids of my own. And then you have to buy all the supplies and the backpack. It’s a lot every year. But through this, through the community, we are able to help families out with that so that a student doesn’t show up on the first day without the basic needs. That just sets the wrong tone for the whole year. So this enables them that first day of school to have what they need and just be excited.”

A team from the Hubert Vester Auto Group showed up Wednesday afternoon to add 700 backpacks.

“We started doing it six years ago and just realizing what a massive need is was for kids that don’t have the ability to buy school supplies and backpacks,” said Chris Vester.

Vester said the auto group set aside money for backpacks every time its staff sold a car.

“We never even knew that it existed. As soon as it did, we knew that it lined up with us,” he said. “Anything that touches the kids, we normally would get involved with. If it’s cops and kids or kids and education, we’re in.”