Backpack-a-thon: How you can help students get the supplies they need for school

Parents across Central Florida are getting last-minute supplies ready for the first day of school, but thousands of local families can’t afford supplies or pay for other essentials.

The Heart of Florida United Way helps families in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

Before the pandemic, leaders said 47% of working families were living paycheck-to-paycheck. That number has only grown.

READ: Backpack-A-Thon 2021: Help students get school supplies they need this year!

“A $300 unexpected expense could be enough to completely derail them for a month or a few months in their household budget,” said Lynnea Crawford with Heart of Florida United Way. “That was pre-pandemic.”

For the last 14 years, Channel 9 has shown viewers the back-to-school bash put on by the HopeNow Foundation to give families essential supplies.

READ: Back-to-school: What you need to know for your 1st day back

This year, Channel 9 is inviting viewers to help with a virtual drive called the Backpack-a-thon.

Each year, the HopeNow Foundation has been able to hand out about 10,000 backpacks filled with school supplies each year to families.

They have the same goal this year, but with a week until the school year starts, they’ve only received enough donations for about 4,000 backpacks.

READ: Back to school: When does school start in your county?

“If we can help provide a backpack in those school supplies, that frees up some budget to support an unexpected expense, take a little relief off of the grocery bill, and helping make that family more secure in their rent and utilities for that month,” Crawford said.

To find out how you can help, click here.

Deneige Broom

Deneige Broom,

Deneige Broom is back at Channel 9 for her second tour of duty. You may remember when the Seminole County native hit the streets as a reporter for Eyewitness News from 2013-2017. Now, she's back helping drivers navigate those streets as Traffic Anchor every morning.