Local sponsors allow Paddock Mall to help thousands of kids get ready for the school year in connection with their Back to School Fest.
Every August, local families look forward to Paddock Mall’s Back to School Fest. It’s an opportunity for parents and kids to have a day of fun on one of the last Saturdays before the new school year starts—with live entertainment, giveaways, face painting and more. In recent years, the event has included a collection of school supplies to be donated to needy Marion County students.
This year, with help from AdventHealth Ocala, Grandview Clydesdales, Ocala Electric Utility, Public Education Foundation of Marion County, REVO Church, the Bullard Family Foundation and Chic-Fil-A at Paddock Mall, the mall is taking the school supply donations to the next level.
“We are giving away 5,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies,” says Ashley Wheeler-Gerds, general manager of Paddock Mall. “You can’t tell they are donated—they are quality backpacks based on grade levels so that the students will want to carry them.”
Registration got underway on July 20th. Parents can go to www.eventbrite.com/e/paddock-mall-backpack-and-school-supply-giveaway-tickets-114140469216?aff=ebdssbeac to register until the 5,000 slots are filled. Families will have the choice to pick up backpacks at the August 8th event, at a drive through outside the mall, or have backpacks delivered to their assigned school during the first week of class through the Public Education Foundation.
“This will allow for anyone in any situation to receive a backpack,” Wheeler-Gerds notes. She says the giveaway was made possible through community partnerships.
“We are very excited to host this event and will be joined by Titus O’Neil of the WWE, Joe Johnson, CEO of AdventHealth Ocala, and hopefully more community leaders will lend a hand,” she shares. “We are hoping that with this large donation and the collection of school supplies with our local partners we will be able to help Marion County get off to a great start.”
The Paddock Mall Back to School Fest will be held on August 8th from 8am-12pm. For more information, visit www.paddockmall.com or follow on social media @PaddockMall.