Volunteers fill 50,000 backpacks at 4th annual Ready for School Backpack-a-Thon

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of volunteers are working to fill 50,000 backpacks Wednesday at Daley Plaza as the first day of school quickly approaches.

"I love just seeing everybody being involved and surrounding around one cause and getting everybody in our community ready," said volunteer Emily Pizzimenti.

The city's 4th annual Cradles to Crayons' Ready for School Backpack-a-Thon aims at making sure local students have the supplies they need for a successful school year.

"I think I had a lot of opportunities growing up and I wanna make sure that every child feels like they're given that same fresh start," said volunteer Brittany Hicks.

Cradles to Crayons is a national nonprofit organization with locations in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.

It provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive at home, at school and at play.

"We are planning on serving over 82,000 kids in Chicago this year," said Cradles to Crayons Chicago Executive Director Shoshana Buchholz-Miller, "With clothing, toys, books, backpacks, bedding, hygiene products and supplies. We know the need is great so our goal is just to continue to grow so we can meet that need."

The non-profit has partnered with Bank of America to present this event at Daley Plaza.

Volunteers from Chicago-area corporations compete to reach the goal of filling 50,000 backpacks with school supplies in just under three hours. That goal is double the amount at last year's event.

"I think corporations are understanding the importance of giving back to the community to make the places where we do our business a better place," said Amy Hughes with Bank of America Private Bank. "It's just great to see everybody come together to work."

As many as one in three kids in Chicago can't afford new school supplies and clothing that fits, according to Cradles to Crayons. This leaves them ill-prepared to start school and putts them at risk for low attendance.

Wednesday's event aims to give kids the confidence and resources they need.

"I think this is just that simple little touch that'll help them get there and be happy to be there," said volunteer Emily Pizzimenti.

Their goal is to continue to grow to meet that need.
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