On Aug. 26, about 700 backpacks filled with school supplies were handed out to area students as part of the eighth annual Tillie’s Touch School Supply Giveaway at Ellis Park in East Syracuse. (Hayleigh Gowans)
By Hayleigh Gowans
On Aug. 26, hundreds of local students came out to the eighth annual Tillie’s Touch School Supply Giveaway, where about 700 backpacks filled with school supplies were given away for free to prepare the kids for the new school year.
Dale Johnson, founder of Tillie’s Touch, said the event was started to assist local families who may be dealing with financial struggles to provide new school supplies, and has grown to giving out hundreds of filled backpacks per year.
Backpacks and supplies are collected and donated by local individuals and organizations, and the Le Moyne Women’s Soccer Team was on hand to fill the backpacks before they were handed out.
“Unfortunately poverty in the area is a very real thing,” said Johnson. “When it comes to making payments for living or on food versus buying new school supplies and backpacks, unfortunately our young children don’t always get the things they need for a new school year.”
In addition to the backpack giveaway, free haircuts for children were provided by stylists at Shear Concept in East Syracuse, a free lunch was provided for children and their families, the ESM Teachers Union was on hand to pass out small supplies and donated clothes and books were available for children and parents to look through and take free of charge. Each child was also given an “Acts of Kindness” card, which were inspired by the death of Regan Shetsky, the 3-year-old who was hit by a car in Eastwood this past January.
New this year was the participation of the Lee Colton Legacy Fund, which gave out free socks and underwear to children in attendance. The Lee Colton Fund is named after an East Syracuse man who recently passed away, and was created by his wife Jenn Colton as a way to keep his memory alive and give back to the community.
“This is our first event,” said Colton. “Anyone who knew my husband knew he always gave back … This is a way for us to keep his memory alive for our 8-year-old twins.”
To learn more about Tillie’s Touch, go to tilliestouch.org.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features.
I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.
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