Steven Jones III, center, grabs his free backpack at Tulalip Tribes’ Back to School Bash on Aug. 22, surrounded by family Lakiahla Jones, right, Audreyelle Jones, background, and Steven Jones Jr., left.

Tulalip Youth Services and volunteers helped hand out hundreds of backpacks to Tulalip youth as part of the Tribes’ annual Back to School Bash on Aug. 22.

The Tulalip Foundation provides funding for a backpack for any tribal student who comes down to the event and a Johnson-O’Malley grant also provided school supplies as well.

“This year is going pretty good,” said Jessica Bustad, education coordinator of Tulalip Tribes’ positive youth development program and one of the main organizers of the event.

Although the carnival rides and activities had to be skipped this year due to wildfire smoke.

“We actually had to cancel the outdoor activities due to the poor air quality. We just want to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy,” said Bustad.

The event is meant to get students excited about the upcoming school year.

“It's to get them pumped up for going back to school,” said Bustad.

It also helps Tulalip families deal with the cost of supplies.

“We do this every year because we want to show our students that we support them in their education and that we value education,” said Bustad.

Local families said it is a good thing to do for the community.

“It’s really amazing,” said local grandparent Marjorie Letson. “I like that it is helping the community. My daughter is a single parent so it helps her a lot."

Tulalip Youth Services officials work to get many different kinds of backpacks for students, including a number of different name-brands.

“We try to get the popular brands,” said Bustad. “We work really hard, me and my staff, to try and get the best quality backpacks.”

Kids get to pick out their favorite backpack, which are lined up at the Don Hatch Youth Center gym.

“Families like the excitement of getting to come in and choose a backpack,” said Bustad.

“I know the kids like it and like to come out and get their bag,” said local parent Steven Jones Jr. “It’s a good thing for the tribe and the kid."

Students get a specialized pack of supplies based on their grade level.

“We give them the basics, like the composition books for the high school, so they get four books, pens, and highlighters,” said Bustad.

Bustad said it was unfortunate this year’s rides were cancelled, however they will be back in a couple of weeks.

“We’re actually re-scheduling all of the outdoor activities for the first week of school,” she said, “so they’ll still get the opportunity to have that fun.”

The youth center was already planning an after-school barbecue for students returning from their first day of school on Sept. 5.

“We already paid for the vendors so we thought we might as well use them,” said Bustad.

The exact time for the event hasn’t been finalized yet, said Bustad, but will be at the Don Hatch Youth Center at 6700 Totem Beach Road, Tulalip, likely shortly after school ends.

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