ORLANDO, Fla. - Every year, there is a need and every year people line up for the annual "Back To School Bash" held at the Amway Center, but this year's event has been canceled, leaving many struggling parents and children unhappy.
For the past seven years, the event put on the by the all-volunteer, all nonprofit group Hope Now International and sponsored by 9 Family Connection has provided backpacks, school supplies, haircuts and immunizations for thousands of children in need.
Even Gov. Rick Scott supported the effort.
"We've seen families sleeping outside the Amway Center the night before the event," said Michael Radka of Hope Now International.
On Monday, however, Hope Now had to post a message on its website letting everyone know the event scheduled for next month has been canceled.
About a half-dozen sponsors pulled out, with one saying, "We are not going to sponsor this event because they are not our demographic,' serving the poor are not our demographic," Radka said.
Radka said the Amway Center also raised its fee, which caused problems for Hope Now and the sponsors.
In all, the organization is about $60,000 short, so it's now looking for other last-minute venues, possibly the Citrus Bowl, to hold the event.
It's all an effort to give children a chance to start the school year off right.
"I hope to God we can get it back, because we really do need it," said parent Anna Valentin.
Organizers are still looking at other ways to help save the event. The church First Baptist Orlando is also calling on its congregation to help, but as of Monday, the event is off.
Get involved! You can sponsor a student for just $10! To DONATE: click here!
Visit the Back to School Bash online for more details and to see how you can volunteer at this year's event. To VOLUNTEER: click here!
For more, visit www.hopenowinternational.org
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