Thousands of families visited 11 sites throughout Rhode Island on a hot Saturday, August 15, for the annual Back to School Celebration and enjoyed refreshments, music and fun activities.
Fourteen thousand backpacks filled with school supplies were given to students at sites in Providence, Central Falls, Cumberland, Newport, Pawtucket, West Warwick and Woonsocket for the traditional back to school event. More than 200 exhibitors provided information about various community programs.
The event was founded in 1999 by Jorge Cardenas and Melvin Bell and initially served 600 children at just one site in Providence.
Volunteers from Sodexo Providence and Providence Schools helped to pack the backpacks prior to the celebration and staffed locations at United Way Hope High School, Nathanael Greene Middle School, the West End Community Center and the Parent Information and Student Registration Center.
At the Providence sites, transportation vendor First Student also added to the festivities, showcasing some of the 75 new buses expected to be added to the fleet this year.