The fourth Annual Ready for School Backpack-A-Thon recently took place downtown and more than 800 volunteers packed 50,000 backpacks full of school supplies for students in Chicago. The event was hosted by Cradles to Crayons, a national nonprofit working with homeless and low-income youth, and was sponsored by Bank of America.

“Backpack-A-Thon is really the culmination of our Ready For School initiative. Over the summer and heading into the school year we are focused on getting kids in the Chicagoland [area] all the supplies they need to start the year off right. Backpack-A-Thon is our event where we have hundreds of volunteers working to stuff 50,000

backpacks in three hours for Chicagoland kids,” said Shoshana Buchholz-Miller, executive director of Cradles to Crayons.

During the event, the backpacks were filled with all required school supplies for the

Chicago Public School students and following the event the backpacks were delivered to various participating schools, clubs, and community partners to ensure that all the students were ready for their first day with their backpacks full of supplies.

As a supporting sponsor, Bank of America sent about 125 volunteers to participate

in the Backpack-A-Thon along with Amy Hughes who is the managing director and market executive for Bank of America and also a board member for Cradles to Crayons.

“Bank of America understands it’s role as a large corporation not only throughout the country but also locally and how important it is to give back to the communities that we work and live in,” said Hughes.

Working with both Cradles to Crayons and Bank of America, Hughes sees the impact that volunteerism has on corporate employees and how the backpacks benefit children In Chicago. Hughes said that Bank of America’s involvement in this event “isn’t just about writing a check to Cradles to Crayons.” The bank’s employees

and clients look forward to participating every year.

“It’s a really fun day and people can help in all different ways. A lot of us have children and know how important it is for kids to have that brand new backpack with the school supplies and it touches all of us to think that there are kids in Chicago who are concerned about going to school because they might not have the things that they need to be able to go to school every day,” said Hughes.

Through her involvement as a Cradles to Crayon board member, Hughes said she has been able to make an impact on her own family and the “unintended perk” she has gotten from all of this is that her children have learned the importance of giving back.

“For me personally, my kids used to get a brand new backpack every year and because of Cradles to Crayons, my kids now say that they don’t need one and they want to donate their new backpack to the organization. For them to say that makes a big difference to me,” said Hughes.

The Citizen by: Katherine Newman