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Central Florida's Largest School Supply Giveaway Canceled for Lack of Funds...Maybe

July 25th, 2013 | WMFE - Orlando has been home to the largest school-supply giveaway east of the Mississippi for the past seven years. This year, however, organizers say they had to cancel the event because they weren't able to raise enough money. But members of the all-volunteer group behind the Back to School Bash are still hoping for a last-minute miracle.

The group Hope Now International says it has helped more than 50,000 children, with free backpacks full of school supplies, immunizations, health screenings, and haircuts. This year’s Back to School Bash was scheduled for August 10th at the Amway Center, but Hope Now founder and president Michael Radka says his group came up short of the $120,000 needed for the event. He says if any good has come from being forced to cancel, though, it’s the opportunity it created to clear up some misconceptions.

I believe the community thought this event was run by a wealthy organization, that maybe it was the Orlando Magic that was running this event, or the City of Orlando, or maybe even the Amway,” says Radka. “I think this situation brought about an awareness that we’re just a group of volunteers that are trying to do the best we can.”

Radka has been meeting with the City of Orlando to discuss moving the Bash to the Citrus Bowl, which has enough space for the expected crowd of families in need and would cost less to rent. But that means part of the event would be held outside in the August heat. Radka is hoping the interest generated by the cancellation may help save the Back to School Bash, and keep it at the Amway Center.


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