By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4) – With big hearts, full hands, and plenty of spirit, people gathered excitedly at Empower Field at Mile High on Saturday morning for a Back to School bash.

“We are just delighted to be here!” said Mile High United Way President and CEO Christine Benero. “Fifty volunteers this morning got up early, and we have had over 100 who packed backpacks and who put everything together and made today happen.”

It’s the second year the Mile High United Way and Denver Broncos have partnered together for the free backpack giveaway. The backpacks not only feature school supplies, but also hygiene materials.

(credit: CBS)

“I think at a time where it’s a little scary for families and young people to be here with the Broncos to say ‘Your community cares. We are going to get through this together,'” Benero said. “We all said this morning it’s nice to be together, even though we’re a little bit apart.”

This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers tried to make the event as seamless as possible, with a drive-up service.

“What I’m most proud of is the work that was put in to adapt this event to our current culture. We were really thoughtful about how to incorporate in-person volunteers and make sure the kids and the families are safe and have some sort of personal touch point,” explained Denver Broncos Executive Director of Community Development Allie Engelken.

The goal is to help students feel confident about taking on the upcoming school year by letting them know, simply, they’re cared about.

“That confidence comes from school supplies. So if you know you’re logging into a Zoom meeting with your class and you have a brand new set of headphones that you can wear and a new pencil and USB port that you may not have needed before but now you need. Those are all the supplies that will set these kids up for success,” said Engelken. “It’s been a challenging year for everyone. For companies, for organizations, and this is something tangible where we can say we are giving back. We want you to feel valued. We want your family to feel supported.”

Mile High United Way is always looking for help in serving our community. For volunteering, donating, or searching for other resources in its 211 Help Center, visit unitedwaydenver.org.

Mekialaya White

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