The Watertown Urban Missions annual school-supply giveaway comes at the perfect time, according to many needy families who attended the event Wednesday.
Cristina Perez, Watertown, went to the giveaway at the mission, 247 Factory St., with a friend, the friends children and her own two daughters.
I just got out of the Army, and its been pretty tough at home, she said. My friend told me about this and I was excited. Its one less thing off my checklist.
Her daughters, Alyssa E., 6, who will be a first-grader in the Watertown City School District, and Felicity A., 10, who will be a fourth-grader, picked out their own backpacks full of school supplies.
Supplies varied depending on each grade level, and included folders, pens, pencils, highlighters, one-subject notebooks and loose-leaf paper, among other items.
About 400 filled backpacks were given out during the first hour of the event; more than 800 were distributed in total. People lined up before 9 a.m. for the 10 a.m.-to-2 p.m. event.
Well have bags available tomorrow, Andrew G. Mangione, the missions director of development, said Wednesday.
Joanna J. Fassett, Critical Needs Program coordinator, said parents or caregivers who need backpacks and school supplies for their children just have to show up at the mission today, present an identification card for record purposes and let the volunteers know how many children they have and what grades theyre in.
Ill keep giving things out while theres a need, Ms. Fassett said.
They dont have to live in Watertown. I tell people if they come in from Timbuktu, well give them a backpack. Its such an essential service, and the basic building block for learning, so we dont like to put red tape on it.
Sabrina A. McConnell, Watertown, said she was thankful the mission hosted such a helpful program. She brought along daughter Madeline R. Cameron, 5, who will enter first grade in the city district this year.
I came last year, and I know this helps, Mrs. McConnell said. Getting our list on such sort notice at the end of the month when youre paying bills is tough.
Madeline said she picked out a tan puppy backpack because she has a dog at home.
Mr. Mangione said donations from community members and organizations far exceeded the amounts in years past.
Weve received about 1,000 backpacks and prefilled about half of them, and we have enough supplies to fill most of the rest of the backpacks, he said.
As filled backpacks disappeared from tables, volunteers were on hand to fill remaining bags to keep up with the demand.
During Wednesdays event, staff members from Tunes 92.5 dropped off several boxes of school supplies that the radio station collected from the community.
Mr. Mangione said school supply and backpack donations will be accepted at any time of year. The agency gives out backpacks and school supplies throughout the year through its Critical Needs Program.
For more information, call the mission at 782-8440.