Cradles to Crayons' 12th Annual Ready for School Backpack-A-Thon® was a success!

Friday, August 3, 2018, at Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center
1350 Tremont St, Roxbury Crossing, MA 02120

With the support of 725 volunteers, comprised of 46 companies, 70,000 local children now have the essential items they need to succeed in school this year!

Browse through photos from the day on our Facebook page. For more information on how your company can join our effort, email our Director of Development, Katie Amoro at

The Initiative

As one school year comes to a close, Cradles to Crayons is already focused on getting children ready for the next. Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, BrightSphere Investment Group and TJX Companies Inc., the Ready for School initiative distributes backpacks filled with new, age-appropriate school supplies, including tools aligning with Massachusetts State Standards for STEM education, helping students excel in math and sciences from an early age as well as KidPacks filled with shoes, clothing, and more, to ensure that children arrive at school on the first day prepared and excited to learn! This year marks the 12th year of this critical program.

The Need

Starting school without the tools needed to succeed can put big obstacles in a developing child’s way. There are more than 268,000 children in need in Massachusetts right now and your help is essential to supplying children with the tools they need to translate their knowledge and creativity into confidence and good grades.

Items like backpacks, art supplies, writing tools, and back-to-school clothing are imperative to help get children mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared for school. New backpacks and supplies give children a sense of pride and excitement to go back to school. With these tools, children are more likely to attend school and complete homework — knowing they have the same chance at school success as their peers. Parents can focus on rent and groceries instead of facing the stress of school-related expenses.


“The beginning of the school year is very exciting for children returning to school, but it can also be very financially trying for families with limited resources. When we distributed the backpacks last year, we noted two key things: the excitement on the faces of the children and the relief on the faces of parents who knew — at that moment — that their child would attend the first day of school, like all the other kids, with a backpack full of supplies that can be very costly for a family with limited resources.”

Patience Sampson

Boston Medical Center — Grow Clinic

Help Cradles to Crayons prepare children with backpacks and school supplies for the upcoming school year!

Support Our 2019 Backpack-A-Thon

This high-energy and high-impact event on Friday, August 3, brought together more than 700 volunteers to fill 40,000 backpacks in less than four hours. Backpacks were filled assembly-line style with all the new school supplies a child needs to be ready to learn on the first day of school! After celebrating successful teamwork, Backpack-A-Thoners sat back and enjoyed lunch while hearing about the incredible ways this annual event touches the lives of thousands of local children through our network of more than 130 Service Partners. Corporate partners are critical to the success of this program and we welcome the opportunity to work together on customizing a Ready for School partnership to meet company goals. For more information on how your company can get involved next year, email our Director of Development Katie Amoro at

Volunteer Roles

Backpack Stuffers
Folders, erasers, and pencils galore! These school essentials have long been searching for a backpack to call home and a child to supply. Speed, precision, positivity, and some good dance moves are encouraged as you join with your fellow volunteers to fill 40,000 backpacks. Once these backpacks are filled with all the tools kids need to succeed, they will be delivered to children who eagerly await their arrival.

Speedy Suppliers
Each link in our supply chain is important. We depend on a group of determined “unpackers” to open cartons and then hand supplies to table runners and empty packaging to our “green machine” trash team. You will be unpacking supplies and doing the hand off to the supply runners who will bring these to the tables in need. Those pesky cardboard boxes will be passed off to the green machines to meet their compactor fate.

Green Machines
Those hundreds of cardboard boxes aren’t going to break themselves down. This team plays a critical role by taking empty packaging and cartons away from the assembly area to the compactors.

Hauling Heroes
A little muscle and a lot of energy are vital for this team who take filled backpacks from the end of the assembly lines and load them onto trailers for delivery.

Devoted Distributors
Many backpacks will be given out on site to the agencies that ordered them. You will help us collect the correct number of age-appropriate backpacks for each agency to pickup. From there, the agencies will distribute them directly to the kids so that they can start the school year off right, ready for success!

Golden Pencil Awards

Ready for a little friendly competition? Can your team pack a backpack while they bust a move?

Throughout the day, we’ll be keeping an eye out for excellence. Our prestigious Golden Pencil Awards will be given out to the teams who showed nothing lacking in their backpack packing!

Rookie of the Year

Show off your first-time skill set — newness doesn’t faze your team!

Old School Award

Your veteran skills set the pace for the day!

Families Helping Kids in Need

A family that plays together, stays together — especially when it’s in support of the community.

Dressed for Success

Fashion Week-worthy shirts and grace under fire — this team’s style sets trends.

Backpack Boogie Award

Dance moves only enhance this team’s productivity — conga line anyone?

MVP (Most Valuable Pencil)

You gave 110% percent all day with your commitment, skill, and passion for the cause — we couldn’t have done it without you!


12th Annual Backpack-A-Thon Supporters


In-kind Partners


Logistics Partner: Cassella


Hydration Partner: Polar Beverages


Transportation Partner: UPS

Caffeine Partner: Whole Foods


Cradles to Crayons looks forward to engaging you in this year’s Backpack-A-Thon. Contact Katie Amoro, Director of Development at or 617-779-4730 for more information, or to discuss how your organization can get involved in our Ready for School initiative.