2nd Annual
Ready for School Backpack-A-Thon®

Support Cradles to Crayons’ Ready for School initiative and help more than 22,000 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. The Ready for School initiative distributes backpacks filled with new, age-appropriate school supplies and KidPacks filled with shoes, clothing, and more, to ensure that children arrive at school on the first day prepared and excited to learn!

The Need

Starting school without the tools needed to succeed can put big obstacles in a developing child’s way. There are more than 180,000 children in need in Chicago 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.”

Backpack-A-Thon Volunteer

Help Cradles to Crayons help local children get prepared and dressed for success!

Support Our 2nd Annual Backpack-A-Thon

2nd Annual Backpack-A-Thon
Thursday, August 10th, 2017
Riverside Plaza

This high-energy and high-impact event on Thursday, August 10th brings together more than 300 volunteers to fill 17,000 backpacks in under three 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 Nonprofit Social Service Partners directly from the site and distributed within days. After celebrating successful teamwork, Backpack-A-Thoners can sit back and hear about the incredible ways this annual event touches the lives of thousands of local children through our network of 23 Nonprofit Social 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 300 fellow volunteers, working together in an assembly-line fashion to fill 17,000 backpacks. Once these backpacks are filled with all the tools kids need to succeed, they will be carted off by your fellow volunteers to the next step toward their final destination.

Speedy Suppliers
If a good pencil or the fresh scent of a new notebook gets you all jazzed up, then this job is for you! Just see how time flies when supply packaging meets its demise. 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
Cardboard compactor, rubbish raider, however you say it, you are an essential piece of this event. Those hundreds of cardboard boxes aren’t going to break themselves down, but you have the strength, skill, and enthusiasm to take down even the toughest supply box. You and your team will help remove supply packaging and cart it to the compactors.

Hauling Heroes
A filled backpack’s journey to a child starts here. A little bit of muscle and a lot of energy will go a long way if you take on this vital position. Backpacks need to be taken from the end of the backpack stuffing lines and loaded onto the trailers. Help us give both the bins full of backpacks and the children who need them a lift up. We’ll even let you skip your gym session that day.

Devoted Distributors
Volunteers and agencies, unite! Help a backpack find its proper home! Some of these backpacks will be given out right on site to the agencies that have ordered them for kids in need. You will need to find the correct number of age-appropriate backpacks and send them off with the right agency. From there, the agencies will distribute them to the kids who need them to start the school year off right, ready for success!

Golden Pencil Awards

Ready for a little friendly competition? Does your team have what it takes to win a Golden Pencil Award?

Throughout the day, we’ll be keeping an eye out for excellence! Can your team pack a backpack while they bust a move? Or maybe you’re so organized that you have all your pencils in a row.

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!

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!

2nd Annual Backpack-A-Thon Supporters

 Support LevelsCurrent Sponsors

Cradles to Crayons looks forward to engaging you in these high-impact opportunities to give back. Contact Dave Cotugno, Senior Manager of Development at  companieschicago@cradlestocrayons.org or 312-767-1036 for more information, or to discuss how your organization can get involved in our Ready for School initiative.