500 backpacks given away during Back to School Bash

Event hosted by Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns

ORLANDO, Fla. – The new school year begins in less than two weeks. Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns wants to make sure students start off on the right foot.

“We want to be a resource and provide the relief that so many of our families need, especially when we’re talking about going back to school,” Burns said.

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The District 6 commissioner teamed up with several organizations to host a “Back to School Bash” inside the gym at the Grand Avenue Neighborhood Center on Saturday.

Families first heard from incoming Orlando Police Department Chief Eric Smith.

“I just want to remind everybody as you go back to school it’s our job as a police department to keep you safe,” Smith said.

They also heard from Orange County Public Schools’ new superintendent, Dr. Maria Vazquez.

“I am so excited about the next school year. It’s going to be wonderful,” she said.

They then lined up to get free school supplies. Volunteers handed out more than 500 backpacks filled with binders, pencils and more.

Burns said buying school supplies this year could be especially tough for many families as we see the highest inflation rate in four decades.

“Prices on everything is going up so we’re fortunate that we’re able to provide some relief,” Burns said.

It’s much needed relief for parents like Shanika Gardner, whose son is going into 9th grade this year.

“I don’t have the funds to do it. It’s a big help out,” Gardner said.

She adds she wants him to be prepared for the new year and this is getting results.

“I want him to have a good school year. I want him to graduate high school so he can be something, somebody,” she said.