ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A Gift for Teaching’s The Great Big Backpack Build came back this summer stronger than ever with over 400 volunteers full of smiles and great energy!

“This is our biggest great big backpack build to date and it’s amazing,” Jane Thompson, President of A Gift for Teaching said.

Volunteers on Thursday packed over 21,000 backpacks at the Orange County Convention Center to help students in need.

Jerry Reedy, a teacher at Chickasaw Elementary School, came to volunteer for the first time this year. Reedy said he’s seen students show up to class without any school supplies over the last several years and said teachers will use their own money to help them out.

“Every teacher (can tell you) it comes out of their pocket for their own kids because some kids don’t have anything,” Reedy said.

More than 70% of public schools in Central Florida are considered high-need which means hundreds of students will show up on the first day of school empty-handed. The goal is to change that with the help of A Gift For Teaching.

“The need unfortunately never lessens, it just grows. We know that there’s still a lot of families struggling in this community so just to know that their kids are going to be taken care of is just why we do this,” Thompson said.

The backpacks will be delivered to more than 140 Orange County public schools with the highest need and public schools in Osceola County.

Original article posted by WKMG News 6 at