Volunteers on Saturday distributed dozens of new backpacks to youngsters and teens at Sylvan Park in Redlands as part of an annual Back2School Jam and Resource Fair.
Hosted by the Redlands Police Department, Micah House and Ride Yourself Fit to help students start the new school year prepared with the necessary supplies, families filled the park to receive giveaways like notebooks, shoes and even bicycle helmets, all provided through donations made from local agencies, businesses and community members.
Mary Gamboa of Redlands, along with her three children, spent the morning at the park enjoying the free activities, games and food.
She said the event was a “blessing.”
“We were just going to come to the park to enjoy the day and we saw everything going on. I didn’t even know what was happening and a volunteer told me the kids can line up for a free backpack. I almost started to cry,” she said.
“Times are tough right now and I didn’t know how I was going to get them new backpacks. They don’t have to worry about hand-me-downs this year. It feels amazing.”
The annual event connects those in need with resources available in their backyard.
Participating groups and organizations this year included California Highway Patrol, Redlands Unified School District, IEHP, Redlands Community Hospital, and Common Vision Coalition.
Ride Yourself Fit’s participation was a first for the event. Typically, the nonprofit’s Children’s Health and Bicycle Safety Expo takes place at the Redlands Mall in downtown, but moved venues to reach a broader audience. The expo featured safety tips directly from the professionals and a riding course for children.