Hundreds of children throughout Central Florida are now better equipped for the start of a new school year thanks to the Glazer Family Foundation.
On Thursday, the Foundation continued a very worthy summer tradition – supporting students in need – by donating 1,000 backpacks to boys and girls who visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp. More than 40 local nonprofit organizations and community groups were on hand for the annual "Buc-Packs for Back-to-School" program, which allowed the students to watch the Buccaneers practice before receiving their new supply-filled backpacks to kick off the school year.
"Many of our kids come from an area called Sulfur Springs, an underprivileged, underserved community," said Sima Codre, Senior Program Director-Tampa YMCA Senior Program. "A lot of times our kids need the very basic supplies in order to get ready for their back-to-school time and this provides an excellent opportunity for them to not only receive a Buc pack but also to interact and participate in opportunities they otherwise would not have the opportunity to [experience]."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders and team mascot Captain Fear personally distributed a backpack to each youth in attendance before the children took to the fields to enjoy football drills with Buccaneers players, including linebacker Mason Foster and defensive ends William Gholston and Steven Means.
"I think it's amazing," said Frankie Mercardo of the Dream Center of Tampa Bay. "This gives an opportunity to kids who never even get this close to football players. This is an opportunity to see that there's something better than where they're at right now, and it helps them. The backpacks are amazing. Now, they get to go to school and say they got this from the Buccaneers themselves."
Over the past 12 years, the Buc-Packs initiative has provided more than 25,000 backpacks to local children. Buccaneers Pewter Partner DEX Imaging, which handles all of the team's printing and copying needs, partnered with the Glazer Family Foundation on the back-to-school effort.
"It's wonderful that the Glazer family has done such good for the community, doing good in the neighborhood, and helping out underprivileged children and people that can't afford it," said Phil LaRosa of the YMCA Hernando County School-Age Program. "It's nice that they reach out and help people like that."
The Glazer Family Foundation is dedicated to assisting charitable and educational causes in the Central Florida region. The Foundation helps better the lives of children and families by establishing lasting, impactful programs throughout Florida communities.
Since its establishment in 1999, the Glazer Family Foundation has given millions of dollars in programs, grants, tickets and merchandise to the Tampa Bay area, including a $5 million donation that kick-started the construction of the Glazer Children's Museum.
"We just think of this amazing job that the Glazers have offered us," said Sterling Foster, a Dream Center volunteer. "They took us to a game last year, and the whole backpack situation, it just means a lot for [the kids] to show them that somebody cares. They're grateful to just come out here and have a good time and get away from their city life, off the streets, and come out here and do something productive with themselves."