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Great Big Backpack Build: 400 Volunteers, 20,000 Backpacks for Students

Summer is not only a time for fun and play; it also begins a countdown for A Gift For Teaching’s Ready for Back-to-School campaign presented by Walt Disney World Resort. This community giveback campaign is powered by three initiatives that will equip local students with the tools, excitement, and preparation they need for a successful school year.




The Great Big Backpack Build officially kicked off the season with 20,000 brand-new backpacks and school supplies generously funded by local companies and supporters. This year, these essentials were packed together by more than 400 volunteers at a high-energy, high-impact event held at the Orange County Convention Center, and will be delivered to more than 135 Orange County public schools with the highest need, as well as public schools in Osceola County, in preparation for the new school year this fall.

Starting July 5th through August 18th, companies and groups can register to support A Gift For Teaching’s Back-to-School Drive initiative – which is Central Florida’s largest school supply drive. Companies and groups, like Walt Disney World Resort, hold their own virtual and/or physical supply drives to help stock A Gift For Teaching’s Free Teacher Supply Store with this year’s top 5 essentials: #2 pencils, loose-leaf paper, dry-erase markers, spiral or composition notebooks, and block erasers. Donations from physical supply drives must be received by August 25th to be counted and included in the running for the Overall Top Supply Drives.

“It’s not just a pencil. Having supplies makes a huge difference in how students participate in their education, feel about themselves, and get excited about their abilities to learn new things,” said Jane  Thompson, President of A Gift For Teaching. “Our teachers know this by experience, which is why they dig into their own pockets every year to buy supplies for their students and classrooms. That’s why this collective effort over the summer is so impactful; supplies empower teachers and inspire future leaders.

More than 70% of public schools in Central Florida are considered high-need, and thousands of their students will arrive at class empty-handed on the first day of school. Together, the local community can equip these students for success.

“Empowering the next generation of diverse storytellers is a huge priority for us here at Disney, which is why teaming up with A Gift For Teaching every summer is one of our favorite traditions as we help support Florida students heading back to school together,” said Tajiana Ancora-Brown, Director of External Affairs at Walt Disney World Resort. “Hundreds of Disney VoluntEARS get involved with these efforts, and it is always incredible to see the impact they’re making for local students in building their confidence and ensuring they have what they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”




On August 17th, the Back-to-School Telethon will be broadcast live on WKMG News 6 for a special one-day initiative. All financial donations received will be eligible to be doubled by generous matching funders to make the impact of each gift go twice as far. A Gift For Teaching transforms every dollar received into $10 worth of supplies for local teachers and students, but for 24 hours, donations can provide up to $20 worth of supplies.

For 25 years this September, A Gift For Teaching has helped ensure Central Florida students have the tools and experiences they need to succeed every school year. More than $8 million worth of free educational resources were distributed to Orange County public school teachers and their students this past academic year, and one-third of the supplies distributed are collected and raised through A Gift For Teaching’s Ready For Back-to-School summer campaign.

With the support of the community and impact partners like Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Foundation, The Joe & Sarah Galloway Foundation, and many more, A Gift For Teaching can continue providing free educational resources that empower teachers to inspire future leaders. Check out giveback initiatives and help students in our community get ready for back-to-school this summer.

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