Students form long lines for 'Back2School Bash' backpack giveaway

The Rainier Beach Back2School Bash drew more than 1,000 people to the local community center Saturday, with volunteers providing free music, food, games and school supplies for those in attendance.

Hundreds of backpacks were given away at the event, which falls during a time when families are struggling financially due to inflation and rising costs. 

"They are so good at what they do and also very friendly, so you can’t help but show up," said Lee Kinzy, a resident in the Seattle area.

"I love volunteering and helping and seeing all of this come together for the community," said Marcella Donnelly-Lyons, who had brought her grandkids to the event.

The Rainier Beach Action Coalition was on hand to give away the backpacks and school supplies to long lines of students. 

"Everybody got a backpack, their favorite colors—green, blue—and he’s got his Seahawks colors, so he’s really happy," Donnelly-Lyons said about her youngest. 

She picked up four packs for her youngsters, including eighth-grader Xavier Landry.

"I feel good, yeah, because there are some people that don’t have what I’ve got. I feel grateful for what I’ve got," said Landry.

Donnelly-Lyons was also vendor at the event and works for the Tiny Tots Development Center. She said the cost of school supplies is stressful for many and has strained her own family's budget as well. 

"For him alone it was like, $150 because he needed the Texas Instruments calculator. And this is just one child—I have four," she said .

Veronica Monroe also brought her grandchildren to get backpacks Saturday.

"To be able to get the help that’s needed for so many families, it’s just awesome. I love it. I can’t thank them enough. I appreciate it with all my heart and soul," said Monroe. "It’s a blessing, you know what I mean. I appreciate it so much," said Monroe. 

DataWeave analytics has recently estimated that the average cost of a backpack is now around $70 and said the price for a basket of about a dozen typical school items has increased 15% over the same time last year.

"We know that families are challenged economically so that’s one reason we do the giveaways," said Gregory Davis, Managing Strategist for the Rainier Beach Action Coalition. "There is definitely a specific need and that is what we try to do as an organization is to address needs."

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Davis said the bash also included a book giveaway and fresh hair cuts from barbers who donated their time. 

"The father and sons together, they have over 12 barbers here to provide free haircuts," said Davis. 

The free event is made possible through donations. He said it's the 19th year for the event. 

"Everything helps, and If you can contribute do it, Seattle Public Schools need your help," said Donnelly-Lyons.