Jacob Alcantara, 9, of Stamford said he is looking forward to math when he starts the fifth grade in September.
“I like math because every teacher I have for math makes it fun,” Alcantara said.
On Sunday, Alcantara picked out a new blue backpack at Verizon Harbor Point stuffed with supplies, including pencils, loose leaf paper, a notebook and a ruler.
“I’m really happy with my bag and excited for school,” Alcantara said. “My backpack from last year is beat up.”
He was one of about 100 area school children from the ages of 4 to 15 filed into the Verizon Harbor Point store off Canal Street to take their pick of 100 new school backpacks filled with supplies. The giveaway was part of the TCC School Rocks Backpack Giveaway, an annual partnership between 1,000 participating TCC Verizon and Wireless Zone stores and Culture of Good, which distributes donated backpacks nationwide.
In less than an hour, only a half dozen book bags were left.
“This is a big help to us,” said Robson Oliviera, a 40-year-old former Stamford resident whose two children ages 10 and 4 got book bags.
In total, J and C Management, a franchise outfit comprised of 29 stores in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and owned by Stamford resident Chris Severo, expected to give away nearly 3,000 book bags on a first come, first served basis, said Jermaine Gordon, manager of the Harbor Point store.
Gordon said the giveaway is the first local initiative by the franchise group in partnership with TCC Verizon’s community outreach program Culture of Good, which started the backpack giveaway four years ago.
Gordon said he expects to give away another round of backpacks at the Healthy Fun Fest and Back 2 School Jam from 12 to 4 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Stamford YMCA at 10 Bell St.
“Hopefully this will become a new tradition to look forward to,” said the 27-year old Gordon of the TCC Rocks Giveaway. “I feel 100 percent positive about this event and seeing the smile on the children’s faces. But we’re looking for ways to give back to the community.”
Jacob Alcantara’s mother, Jennifer Alcantara said she was happy the giveaway was run simply without pressing people to give information about whether they are economically disadvantaged. The donated backpacks help the family make ends meet, she said.
“This is a big help to us because we I have three boys, with one of them going into high school,” said the 33-year-old mother of three.
The three hour event also included free fresh popcorn, facepainting by Kristen Askin of Kaleidoscope Arts and Entertainment with firefighters from the The Stamford Fire Department’s South End Station offering a show and tell of their truck.
Laura Harten, 32, of the Bronx, N.Y., heard about the giveaway through the Eventbrite website and brought her four children, Benjamin, 15, Jeremiah, 11, Laila, 6 and Hailey 5. Laila and Hailey picked out matching pink backpacks.
“This is a fun day out and it gives you a head start on a new school year,” Harten said. “Buying a book bag is one less thing to worry about.”