Back to School Blessing01

Yessenia Becerra, 6, puts on a backpack with help from Traci Murillo, a volunteer from Emmanuel Baptist Church, on Saturday at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon.

MOUNT VERNON — About 1,200 kids received a backpack and school supplies to start the upcoming school year Saturday at the annual Back to School Blessing.

Skagit Valley College worked with the Christian community of Skagit County to host the event, which was held at the college campus. Families and their children also received a free breakfast, gently used clothing, and could enjoy games and music.

Despite the rainy weather, about 1,800 people were lined up at the start of the event, said organizer Anne Clark, vice president of college advancement.

“I think the need in Skagit County is so great. Schools supplies are expensive,” she said. “I think they enjoy the (carnival) feel too.”

There were 1,000 backpacks for K-12 students, and 150 for preschool students, she said. The supplies were donated by Christian churches in the area.

Another benefit is the chance to bring kids to the campus to show them opportunities in higher education, Clark said.

Volunteer Tami Dodge said she estimates the Christian community has sponsored the event for about 15 years, and it has been hosted at the college for four years.

Volunteers buy supplies and then assemble and distribute backpacks, she said. Inside each backpack are supplies specific to grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-12, and kids could choose the color of their choice.

Dodge said the blessing is a way to show local families the community cares.

“Kids need to start on a good foot,” she said.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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