El Paso County previously had several backpack drives that provided free school supplies to families in need. In 2019, a few organizations decided that it would be better to pool their efforts.
“We’ve brought together a handful of partners to consolidate essentially the same kind of back-to-school events,” said Reverend Stu Davis, executive director of COSIloveYou, a network of churches that work collectively on community projects.
This year, the third annual Backpack Bash will be held on two consecutive Saturdays, July 31 and August 7.
The event aims to distribute 15,000 free backpacks filled with essential school supplies for elementary, middle and high school students at seven locations across the county.
“It’s a huge effort,” Davis said.
Related services will also be offered on-site for childhood immunizations, dental and vision checks, and connections to local sources for free food, housing assistance, and government healthcare programs.
The 2021 massive donation involves more than 40 businesses, churches and nonprofits, as well as schools, Davis said. COSILoveYou and Pikes Peak United Way are the main sponsors.
“By consolidating and centralizing supplies and donations, we are able to serve many more people,” Davis said.
The method also responds to the different needs of the country, he said, and ensures that anyone who needs help receives it.
For example, with fewer low-income families, the Tri-Lakes region of Monument, Palmer Lake and Woodmoor could have 300 children in need of essential school supplies, Davis said, while 3,000 children in southeast Colorado Springs might show up at an event.
The seven sites were selected so that “no matter where a family lives in El Paso County, there’s a place nearby they can go,” Davis said.
Locations will be in drive-thru, walk-in or hybrid formats.
Last year’s event gave away 10,000 backpacks and even more families are expected to apply for help this year, organizers say.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause financial hardship related to housing, employment, food and health care, Davis said.
“Our goal is to give families one less thing to worry about: getting their kids ready for school.”
Attend the Backpack Bash closest to you and only go once. Children must be present to receive a backpack, but no qualifications are required.
The events will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the following dates and locations:
Southeast – Sierra High School 2250 Jet Wing Drive, drive-thru and walk-in
East – Mountain Springs Church – 7345 Adventure Way, walk-in
Widefield – Pikes Peak Christian Church 4955 Bradley Road, drive-thru
Monument – Tri-Lakes YMCA 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument, free access
Central – Doherty High School 4515 Barnes Road, walk-in and drive-through
Westside – Coronado High School 1590 W. Fillmore St., drive-thru and walk-in
Downtown – Hillside Community Center 925 S. Institute St., walk-in
Contact the author: 719-476-1656.