By Jessica Tuggle
FELLSMERE - Schools around the district provide checklists of items students must bring with them on the first day of school, but not all students can afford to bring a backpack, much less fill it with school supplies.
Since the summer began, organizers at Operation Hope in Fellsmere have been collecting backpacks and various other school supplies to give away to needy children at the annual back-to-school backpack giveaway.
On Aug. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., volunteers and staff at Operation Hope will help students start the new year off right with fully stocked backpacks. Last year, the nonprofit was able to provide more than 1,000 backpacks.
Jesse Zermeno, founder of Operation Hope, said the back-to-school event is one of the biggest all year and draws people from around the county, not just the Fellsmere area.
People in need hear of a helping hand and they are grateful for it and will get in line early for the chance for school assistance, he said.
This will be the 13th year of the backpack giveaway and every year there have been people who have helped at the last minute by donating much-needed items. He hopes people will do the same this year.
The grandmother of one of the children who was helped last year, Vivian Lemelle of Fellsmere, said knowing Operation Hope could help with school supplies was a weight off of her shoulders and was very exciting for her grandson.
Among the items needed are glue bottles, Ziploc bags, No. 2 pencils, small bottles of hand sanitizer, 12-inch rulers, highlighters, dry erase markers, crayons, small boxes of tissues, scissors, notebook paper, composition notebooks, graph paper, three-ring binders, basic calculators, and of course, backpacks.
A complete list is available by contacting Operation Hope.
For more information about Operation Hope events, call (772) 571-0003 or visit www.operationhopefl.org.