Back 2 School Giveaway set for Aug. 15

By Sarah Glenn

CHUBBUCK –– In the early hours of Aug. 15, families will be lining up at 202 West Siphon Road by the hundreds to receive much-needed school supplies for free.

Since its humble beginnings a decade ago, the Back 2 School Giveaway event has exploded into a regional tradition and necessity for thousands across Southeastern Idaho.

“It says a lot about the community we live in that it is a community where people want to give,” said Joshua Robinson, event director for the Back 2 School Giveaway. “We live in a place where you can give and you know that what you give is actually going toward something that is going to yield a result.”

More than 100 businesses have agreed to sponsor the event, donating a wide range of services and supplies that will help local children prepare for school. Backpacks, pencils, paper, clothes and free health exams are only some of the products and services that will be offered for free on Aug. 15. This year, event will give away 1,600 backpacks filled with supplies. In total, more than 5,000 people are expected to attend the event. 

According to Robinson, the lines begin to form in the pre-dawn hours. However, children must be present to receive any supplies. If a parent is determined to get in line early in the morning, Robinson has told them to have someone else bring their child to them when the event starts at 10 a.m.

Once the event starts, the child will be given a backpack and invited to peruse tables full of supplies, picking out the ones they will need the most.

“We do it that way so it feels like they are really shopping with mom and dad,” Robinson said.

The backpacks are paid for with donations from various area churches.

While volunteers will shuttle people through the line as quickly as they can, Robinson encourages families to be patient.

“We are going to move you though the line as fast as we can, but it will take time when there are that may people,” Robinson said.

Entertainers and vendors offering free samples will wander amid the long lines, making the quest for basic school supplies seem more like a carnival than a welfare program.

“Half the planning goes into the fair part of the event,” Robinson said. “We want people to be happy while waiting in line.”
This year, Disney princesses will return, along with Star Wars characters, to entertain those waiting in line.

“What struck me the most and what I most appreciated was when a father came up to me, saying this is the first time I’ve got my kid something and we have walked away with a smile and not felt like there is something wrong with us for being here,” Robinson said. “The thing that continually just jumps out at me the most is that mentality. There are lots of of activities that make you feel like you are at a giveaway. This event is designed to be the opposite of that.”
There are no income requirements for those receiving supplies. The event is free and open to anyone who needs it.

“We are happy to have people come and be part of the event,” Robinson said. “There is no litmus test; we are happy to have anyone come. It is our goal to provide for families in need so I try to stress that. But we usually hit about 70 percent of our mark.”

Robinson added that they are still seeking donations and additional sponsors to be able to cover all expenses.

For more information about the event, visit http://www.b2sgiveaway.com.

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