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Great Big Backpack Build underway despite lower donations due to virus

Non-profit is feeling the impact brought on by the coronavirus pandemic

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Volunteers spent their Thursday morning stuffing backpacks for a great cause.

More than 12,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to be distributed to students in underserved areas.

“It’s such a necessary thing. It’s unfortunate that schools aren’t able to provide, and families are in a tough spot this year. It’s now more important than ever that we do this kind of thing whether the students are learning at the schools or at home online. We want to set them up for success,” Lynn Moira Dictor, A Gift For Teaching board member said.

It’s all part of The annual Great Big Backpack Build. Donated school supplies like notebook paper, pencils, and crayons are packed into backpacks to help students in underserved areas across Orange County.

The President for A Gift For Teaching, a non-profit organization, said they are feeling the economic impact of the virus. The organization received fewer donations than expected this year.

“We were still in the midst of having companies who really wanted to participate but things came to a halt. Regardless, we’re so grateful we can build these backpacks, that will be more important more than ever this year,” President Jane Thompson said. “We’re already anticipating more families will need help, especially if families have lost jobs. We’re very grateful.”

The Great Big Backpack Build is an annual event hosted by A Gift For Teaching. Typically loud and bustling with hundreds of people stuffing backpacks, the event would normally last a day.

This year is different because of the pandemic. The event is spread over two weeks, with small groups of volunteers spaced out with gloves and masks stuffing backpacks for children in need.

OUC had a group of volunteers that showed up Thursday. Queen Massaline was with the group and said she felt comfortable with the safety guidelines in place.

“Just being able to come together in a socially distant way and still be able to contribute is amazing. It’s a great feeling,” Massaline said.

The backpacks filled with school supplies will later be distributed to students who need them, whether they are learning in the classroom or online to help set them up for success.

A Gift For Teaching has a mission to help improve public school education by providing resources to teachers and students free of charge. The organization serves nearly 300 public schools throughout Orange and Osceola Counties, offering much-needed supplies to educators.


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