11th Annual
Ready for School Backpack-A-Thon®

Friday, August 4, 2017, at NEW LOCATION: Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center
1350 Tremont St, Roxbury Crossing, MA 02120

Support Cradles to Crayons’ Ready for School initiative and help 70,000 local children succeed in school this year!

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, OMAM 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 11th 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 400,000 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, they 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 help local children get prepared and dressed for success!

Support Our 11th Annual Backpack-A-Thon

This high-energy and high-impact event on Friday, August 4, brings together more than 1,100 volunteers to fill 40,000 backpacks in under four hours. Backpacks are filled assembly-line style with all the new school supplies a child needs to be ready to learn — many of which will be picked up by Service Partners directly from the site and distributed within days. After celebrating successful teamwork, Backpack-A-Thoners can sit back and enjoy 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.

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 at the end of the day 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 Families

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!

11th Anniversary Ready for School Supporters

Level of Supporter


Committed Supporters

Presenting Supporter

Diamond Supporter
Platinum Supporter


Gold Supporter


Silver Supporter


 Arbella Insurance Foundation | Berkshire Bank
Bronze Supporter


Agero | A.I.M. Mutual Insurance | BlackRock | Eversource |Shawmut Design and Construction | Staples | WinterWyman
Friend Supporter


Allied World Insurance Company | Boston Financial Data Services | Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan | Digilant | EY | Global Business Travel Association | Harvard Pilgrim Health Care | Health Advances | Helios Foundation | Intellia Therapeutics | Neighborhood Health Plan | Needham Associates | PatientKeeper | Teradyne | Waters Corporation

Cradles to Crayons looks forward to engaging you in this year’s Backpack-A-Thon. Contact Susan Adler, Director of Corporate Relations at companiesboston@cradlestocrayons.org or 617-779-4772 for more information, or to discuss how your organization can get involved in our Ready for School initiative.