Fully Prepared to Learn


This month the stores have been packed with parents trying to fulfill those overwhelming school supply lists. For many families, it’s a financially stressful time. That’s why each year, the Tampa Y works with community partners to help ease the stress.


Our largest backpack outreach event took place at YMCA Camp Cristina on July 28th. Each year for the past 20 years, the Campo and North Brandon Family Ys team up with Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) to provide free backpacks and school supplies to those in need.


After collecting 1,100 donated backpacks and school supplies, Y staff and volunteers hand them out to Greater Brandon Area families facing financial hardship. During the event, each family also received free healthy snacks, complimentary health and dental screenings, fun entertainment, a wood workshop courtesy of Home Depot and free treats from Kona Ice of Valrico.


Further South at the South Tampa Family YMCA, a free Back-to-School Bash event served active duty, guard and reserve military members and their families. The inaugural event provided a fun environment for the Tampa Bay’s military community to learn about the Y’s services and programs that could benefit service members and their loved ones.


In addition, the Giving Hands Foundation provided free haircuts, clothes, bookbags and school supplies to 50 less fortunate elementary students at the Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA. After surviving domestic violence, homelessness and suicidal thoughts, Vanessa Howard uses her Giving Hands Beauty Salon to help local families struggling with financial woes, illness and domestic abuse. “I let them know there is hope,” says Vanessa. “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”


These outreach events are some of the ways the Tampa Y closes the achievement gap between low-income and middle to upper-income students. We’re committed to providing educational resources and community support to the most vulnerable parts of our community. Thank you to all of our partners, donors, volunteers and staff who make the back-to-school process an easier one for grateful families.


To see photos from the Backpack Outreach Event, click here.


Pictured above: A Greater Brandon area family showing off their new backpacks courtesy of the Tampa Y Backpack Outreach Event.

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