BOSTON, MA—Cradles to Crayons®, a national nonprofit that distributes children’s essentials, celebrated the 10th Anniversary Ready for School Backpack-A-Thon, presented by OMAM and TJX Corporations, Inc., on Friday, August 5 at Boston City Hall Plaza. Lynn Margherio, CEO and Founder of Cradles to Crayons, City of Boston Mayor, Martin J. Walsh, and Boston Public Schools’ Superintendent, Tommy Chang welcomed and joined more than 850 volunteers from Boston’s leading companies to fill 40,000 backpacks—more than 16,000 an hour—with new supplies in a high-energy assembly line emceed by radio personalities David O’Leary, Sue Tabb, and Chris Shine from MAGIC 106.7 and Jackson Blue from HOT 96.9. For the first time, through a transportation partnership with five moving companies, 20,000 of these backpacks were delivered directly from City Hall Plaza to 21 Service Partners and school districts in the Cradles to Crayons network, including 11 Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and eight school districts including Somerville, Quincy, Lawrence, and Holyoke. This ten-year event of providing back-to-school support for children living in low-income and homeless situations in Boston, Philadelphia, and now Chicago, has cumulatively delivered 328,827 backpacks. Boston’s event was followed by Philadelphia’s on August 17 and Chicago’s inaugural on August 18.
Volunteers from leaders in community service like presenting supporters OMAM and TJX Corporations, Inc., and other supporters including The Baupost Group, The Hamilton Company Charitable Foundation, Agero, Gemline, Genzyme, Merck, MFS, New Balance Foundation, The Progin Foundation, Staples Inc., and Willis Towers Watson came together to participate in this high-impact event. Every backpack was stuffed with age-appropriate school supplies, notes with personalized messages for success in the coming school year, and—for the second year—one age-appropriate book from literacy partner Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Logistics partner, Casella, managed storage for and distribution of the 20,000 backpacks that went out the following week from Cradles to Crayons Giving Factory® in Brighton. This is the largest volunteer backpack assembly line event of its kind in Massachusetts and one of the largest in the country—and represents the power of all sectors collaborating to increase access to basic resources for children in need.
“I want to congratulate Cradles to Crayons on the 10th anniversary of their Ready for School Backpack-A-Thon,” said Mayor Walsh. “As the Mayor of the largest school district in the Commonwealth, I’m proud to see the work Cradles to Crayons is doing to increase the confidence and learning potential for all of our students. The Backpack-A-Thon is a great way to bring partners together to make sure all our students are starting off the new school year strong.”
“Partners like Cradles to Crayons truly help Boston Public Schools in its core mission of ensuring that our students are prepared for school,” said Superintendent Tommy Chang. “Providing our students with the necessary tools that lead to building strong literacy skills in the classroom takes us one step closer to closing the opportunity and achievement gap. I am thankful to Cradles to Crayons and all of those who make these efforts possible. The future of our students counts on us all.”
“A child’s school backpack is so much more than the supplies inside. It’s a symbol of belonging. Of the excitement of the first day of a new school year. Of being ready to learn,” said Cradles to Crayons® CEO and Founder, Lynn Margherio. “Ten years ago, we created the Backpack-A-Thon® event here in Boston. This year, we have Backpack-A-Thons in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, and our collective efforts will support 80,000 children. We are thankful for support that has come from all parts of the community—corporations, organizations, families, and individuals—people who know the value of providing basic needs and want to make sure that no child goes without.”
Natasha Dickie, a Social Care Manager from Tufts Health, shares this story about a mother and child she works with, “Jackson’s mother would have had to take the money allotted for food or medication to purchase school supplies for him at the dollar store this year if not for Cradles to Crayons’ Ready for School program. This support—from the backpack to school supplies to clothing, shoes, and books—will provide the critical supplies Jackson needs to start the school year with confidence and pride, and his mom will not have to choose between food, medication, or school supplies.”
305,000 Massachusetts children live in low-income situations. Cradles to Crayons will serve 145,000 local children this year—70,000 through the Ready for School program—providing individually-tailored packages of basic necessities like clothing, shoes, and books distributed from The Giving Factory® in Brighton. This innovative model connects communities that have children’s essentials with those who need them. Additionally, Cradles to Crayons provides year-round volunteer experiences at The Giving Factory® and sponsored volunteer events like Backpack-A-Thon—both unique opportunities for adults and children as young as five to participate together in this model of giving back. Cradles to Crayons will engage more than 38,000 volunteers this year—sharing empathy and understanding across socioeconomic backgrounds, educating about the critical need for basic essentials for families with limited resources, and encouraging present and future philanthropic leaders to become part of the solution.
The Ready for School program focuses on getting the whole child prepared to learn—from head to toe with school supplies and everyday essentials like clothing and shoes—and runs from July 1 through September 30, with Backpack-A-Thon as its signature fundraising event. For more information, visit www.cradlestocrayons.org/boston/readyforschool.