The Greatness Beyond Measure and Barbershop Men of Prayer groups donated 500 backpacks to students ahead of the new school year.
Melanie Thomas wants to provide local families with success.
The founder of the Greatness Beyond Measure organization works to help children enjoy social, academic and artistic success early in their lives.
"Young people need positive reenforcement," Thomas said. "I'm happy when we can create positive experiences. We want them to be successful in school and everything else they do."
When the late summer comes around, that often means providing school supplies.
That was again the case when Greatness Beyond Measure and the Barbershop Men of Prayer community organization hosted a Back to School Bookbag Giveaway on July 31 at the Ringling College Alfred R. Goldstein Library at Ringling College of Art and Design.
Children and families met at the library to pick from a selection of 500 backpacks in various colors.
The backpacks are purchased with the help of a local donor. There's been hiccups in the past — last year's backpacks almost didn't arrive in time because of shipping issues — so Thomas and staff got ahead this year and ordered their inventory in April.
Community businesses and figures joined in on the fun, with some groups providing free haircuts, virtual reality game sessions and playtime in a bounce house. Kids were also able to pick up Italian ice as a treat to beat the heat.
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