Bowie officials and community members are gearing up for the City’s 11th annual Back to School Bash and are expecting an increased demand for the popular backpack give-away tradition.
Donna Hooper, the Bowie City Gym manager who has been organizing the free event since its inception, said volunteers have been filling and giving away an increasing number of backpacks stuffed with school supplies each year and plan to distribute around 350 this year.
“They’ll be gone within the first hour,” she said. “The children are eager to receive their backpacks and the surprises that are included in them. This is a very worthwhile program that presents an opportunity for the children in Bowie to have a fun-filled day of activities before returning to school for the upcoming year.”
The backpacks, available to children ages 4 to 10 on a first-come, first-served basis, are filled with items like notebooks, pens, hand sanitizer, rulers, erasers and glue, Hooper said.
But the free school supplies are not the only draw for area families, Hooper said. The Bash will also include a moon bounce, face painting, a magic act, vendor booths and a donation center for the Bowie Food Pantry.
For the first time, families will have also have the chance to bring in old computers and electronics for free “E-cycling” disposal and hear nutrition seminars sponsored by the Bowie Baysox, Hooper said.
Eleanor Cooper, 68, of Bowie said she has been volunteering with the Back to School Bash for around seven years and thinks the event brings residents together and give them a chance to help each other.
“Volunteering at the Back to School Bash is an opportunity for me to give back to the community, and most of all, to see the happy faces on the children when they get their backpack filled with school supplies,” she said. “Without this event, some families would not be able to provide schools supplies for their children.”
Hooper said around 3,000 people typically attend the Back to School Bash, which costs around $25,000 for entertainment and activities alone.
Karen Parker of Bowie, president of the Bowie High School parent-teacher-student organization, said she often took her children to the bash when they were young and found it a valuable experience for both parents and students.
“It’s a good place to learn about different education resources in the community,” she said. “And it definitely helps families out financially with back to school supplies.”