North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Back2School Rally hands out supplies


Sarah Arney

Cynthia Guerra and her children, Jeanellie and Luis, present their new backpacks full of school supplies they received at the Back2School Rally at Presidents Elementary School Sunday afternoon. Guerra's children attend Pioneer Elementary School in Arlington.

More than 674 students registered for free backpacks full of school supplies and they collected their backpacks at the Back2School Rally Sunday at Presidents Elementary School in Arlington.

At least 150 more were not registered, said coordinators Taunya Lee Sanchez and Brianna Johnson on Sunday afternoon.

The Back2School Rally is coordinated by the leadership team of a ministerial association representing a group of churches as well as some businesses and many other donors.

"This year, the team decided to spend the whole year planning the event instead of just five months like previous years," Johnson said.

"Now it's so well known that people are excited to give," Sanchez said.

This year, the numbers were almost double from last year, the women said.

They reached their goal of 800 backpacks and if they run short, families can arrange for future delivery, Johnson said.

With the extra time in planning, organizers were able to reach out to the community of Stanwood for support.

"We got so many donations we were able to buy three bikes to raffle off in three age groups," Sanchez said. "It's nice when people in the community want to give."

This year they welcomed students from the Stanwood Camano School District after receiving support from St. Cecelia Catholic Church, Windermere Realty in Stanwood and the Stanwood Rotary Club.

"We have heard from a few families in Stanwood," Sanchez said. "But it takes time to get the word out."

This year, they also invited families from Shoultes Elementary School, because, they have a high number of families eligible for free and reduced lunches.

"We looked at the statistics for low-income housing and reached out to those schools," Johnson said.

Along with fun activities, many other services were provided. Dental and vision exams and other health screenings, with medical information provided by Arlington School District.

"The health screenings are free to the whole family," Johnson said.

PUD offered a demonstration on how electricity works and helped families get signed up for discounts on electricity bills.

Families met a policeman and his K9 partner to see how they work together.

There were people on had who painted faces, and there were bouncy houses, hot dogs, popcorn and craft projects.

Hourly prizes were raffled to kids in attendance, including a trip to Silverwood, and lots of free and discounted products and services from local businesses.

"Since our first event in 2010, we've helped children be ready for school with over 3,000 backpacks filled with the supplies they need to get started right," said the organizers.

The first Back2School Rally in 2010 served nearly 300 children in the Arlington and Lakewood school districts. In 2011, nearly 500 children preregistered when the offer was expanded to include middle and high school students and Darrington School District. In 2013, they invited pre-school students, private schools and homeschoolers.

By expanding their hospitality to the Stanwood Camano School District and Shoultes Elementary School in Marysville this year, they reached their goal of 800 backpacks for 800 children.


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