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Fully Prepared to Learn: Military Outreach

Pretty soon, local stores will be packed with parents trying to fulfill those overwhelming school supply lists. For many families, it’s a financially stressful time. That’s why each year, the YMCAs of Tampa Bay work with community partners to help ease the stress. The YMCA hosts several backpack outreach events across the Tampa Bay area in an effort to help students succeed in school.

In Pinellas County, all active duty, guard and reserve military members are invited to join a free Back-to-School Bash at the Clearwater YMCA on 1005 S. Highland Avenue on Saturday, August 3 as part of Military Appreciation Day.

From 10am – 1pm, Tampa Bay military members, veterans and their families can participate in a backpack giveaway, group exercise demos, food and refreshments and fun family activities “The Y recognizes the unique needs of our area’s military population, and we want to demonstrate our support and appreciation for our servicemen and women and their families by hosting fun-filled events such as the Back-to-School Bash,” said G. Scott Goyer, president and CEO of the YMCA of the Suncoast.

Military families must register at to receive backpacks and school supplies. Those wishing to donate new backpacks and/or school supplies can look for the drop box in the Clearwater YMCA lobby. Participating sponsors include Wawa, Inc., Walmart Neighborhood Market, and Dollar Tree. If you’re interested in sponsoring, please contact Philanthropy Engagement Officer Elisa Jackson at 727-467-9622 or

In Hillsborough County, the Tampa YMCA teams up with Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) to provide free backpacks and school supplies to Greater Brandon, Riverview, Wimauma and Ruskin students in need. More than 1,400 pre-qualified students will receive backpacks stuffed with essential school at the 21st Annual YMCA Backpack Outreach Event on Saturday, July 27. From 9 – 11 am, each pre-qualified family will also receive free healthy snacks, complimentary dental screenings, fun games, entertainment and free kids meal coupons courtesy of McDonalds.

These outreach events are only a few of the ways the Y works to close the achievement gap between low-income and middle to upper-income students. Many thanks to all the generous partners, donors, volunteers and staff who make the back-to-school process an easier one for grateful families.

Lalita Llerena
Lalita Llerena
Lalita Llerena is senior communications director for the Tampa YMCA.

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