Backpack Giveaway Brightens First Day of School

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SCRANTON -- The first day of school is made a bit sweeter when there's free stuff. Thousands of students in several counties are starting off their school year with backpacks donated to a rapidly growing charity.

Third graders at Bancroft Elementary in Scranton, equipped with their new school shoes and uniforms, were about to get another surprise from their principal.

"This year, since you are all grown up and you're our third-grade class, you are going to be receiving a free book bag filled with school supplies."

Color and style were their choice. Each backpack piled in the library was filled with pencils, folders, and rulers -- all the supplies for a good school year.

This class in Scranton is one of dozens that will be helped by a backpack giveaway program run by Lackawanna College. We told you about it last month. The college's efforts have grown a lot in eight years.

"When we're all said and done, we're going to contribute to 22 schools," said Theresa Scopelliti, Lackawanna College. "This is the only school that we actually come and we're able to present to the third-grade class; this is definitely the payoff."

Friends Jaliyah and Olivia gravitated toward the girliest backpacks to rival last year's school style.

"I had the cheetah book bag that was blue and pink last year at this Lackawanna College place, and we got book bags stuffed with breakfast and all kinds of stuff," Jaliyah said.

They say the new stuff makes the start of school a little sweeter.

"The pencil case or the notebook, and like Jaliyah said, if my book bag breaks and my school supplies break, I can use that," Olivia added.

That's what their moms might like best about the backpack program. By the end of the month, more than 2,000 students will get a free backpack.