Kids in need of backpacks and school supplies can find both for free — along with cool entertainment, therapy animals, Pima County sheriff’s personnel and much more — all in one convenient place at one time.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department Badges and Backpacks, presented this year by Banner/Aetna, will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, July 24, at Pima Community College-West campus, 2202 W. Anklam Road.
The annual event seeks to distribute 3,000 backpacks filled with supplies during a low-touch, drive-through event that will also feature a walk-up station for families who utilize public transportation or travel on foot or by bicycles.
Backpacks are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Children must be present and enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade to receive backpacks. Each child will receive one backpack.
“We decided to consolidate the event to one day in just one location and are excited to have more backpacks to give away than last year,” said Deputy James Allerton, a sheriff’s spokesman who is coordinating the event.
The giveaway has also expanded to include free books from Bookmans; free bicycle helmets courtesy of TMC Healthcare; animal encounters with Therapeutic Ranch for Animals and Kids; princesses with Tucson Ever After; the Arizona Ghostbusters; Dusty from Tucson Roadrunners; Miss Tucson Abby Charles; emergency vehicles and more.
In consideration of pandemic protocol, attendees who are not in vehicles must wear masks when interacting with event volunteers if they are not vaccinated.
Allerton credits generous sponsors such as The Arizona Rangers, Tucson Electric Power, Arizona Complete Health, HSL Properties, El Rio Health, Tucsonlocalmedia, Country Financial, Chick-fil-A and others for making the event possible.
He said the Sheriff’s Department is happy to back the effort and to nurture opportunities for positive networking within the community.
“We want to support the community and help students as they prepare to return to school. These interactions also help us to connect with community members in ways that we don’t ordinarily get to,” Allerton said.
For more information about Badges and Backpacks, visit www.pimasheriff.org/ services/badges-and-backpacks.