'Geared up for a success': Giveaway equips North Berkshire kids with backpacks, other supplies ahead of school

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NORTH ADAMS — Vickiana Miranda made a quick stop Thursday to pick up some school supplies for her two kids, Irvin and Magdalise.

Each got a backpack full of notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers and all the rest.

And it was all free.

The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, in concert with several other groups, staged the giveaway, "Backpacked For Success," for families from several northern Berkshire towns at The Green in downtown. A similar event was held Tuesday evening in Florida.

The backpacks were available to anyone from Florida, Clarksburg, Cheshire, Savoy, North Adams, Adams and Williamstown.

Miranda said her little ones like backpack day because they get to see some old friends from school, and make new ones.

"It gets them excited to go back to school and see all their friends again," she said.

With a cost of about $8,000, funded by state funding for The Family Place, 275 backpacks and enough supplies to fill them were purchased and given away.

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There were even children's books available that had been donated; many wound up in the backpacks.

Families had to register in advance, but there is no financial qualifier for the giveaway.

"All kinds of families are here," said Amber Besaw, executive director of the coalition, as dozens of people filed through the room, filling their new backpacks with school needs. "And that makes it more fun."

There was a crowd of people and a line out the door when the event began at 1 p.m. But things moved quickly, and by 2 p.m. most everyone had come through, although the organizers stayed for another hour to handle latecomers.

Besaw said this is the seventh Backpacked For Success organized by the coalition. She also noted that aside from collecting their school supplies, the families get to connect with other kids, and with other parents they might wind up seeing again during the school year.

Helping with the effort were volunteers and representatives from Hoosac Valley Middle/High School, Head Start, Department of Children and Families, Berkshire Community Action Council, and North Adams Public Schools. Even Mayor Thomas Bernard was there helping out. He filled a backpack for a third grader while her mom kept an eye on her little sister.

"With the school year almost upon us, we want to make sure we get kids geared up for a success," he said.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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