Two backpack giveaways to be held in Norwich next week

Aug. 6—NORWICH — Parents of schoolchildren will not have to wait for the state’s sales tax-free week to get a deal on school supplies, as two local groups will host backpack giveaways next week with more than 1,000 backpacks filled with supplies offered free for children in grade school through high school levels.

Black Dragon Martial Arts Academy, next to Town Fair Tire in the East Great Plain Plaza, 113 Salem Turnpike, will offer free backpacks from 2 to 7 pm Monday, Aug. 8 through Thursday, Aug. 11.

The Taftville VFW Post 2212, at 36 Pratte Ave. will offer free backpacks from noon to 4 pm next Saturday, Aug. 13.

In both locations, parents must bring their children to collect their backpacks, with a limit of one per child. Backpacks will be filled with supplies geared to the grade level of the recipient.

Dan Jenkins, co-owner and chief instructor at Black Dragon Martial Arts, said this is the fourth year the academy has hosted backpack giveaways, with last year’s resumption of full in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic being the busiest year. Jenkins said Black Dragon gave out about 1,000 backpacks last year and hopes to match that number this year.

Backpacks for middle school and high school students contain 60 items in bags large enough for eight books and a spot for a laptop or tablet. Elementary school backpacks contain 20 items. Black Dragon purchases the bags, already filled, from a company in New Jersey. In addition to Black Dragon, local sponsors are Thayer’s Marine, Norwich Fitness Center, TMJ Marketing Solutions and Eddy Wellness.

Jenkins said no registration is necessary and the backpacks are given on a first come, first serve basis. Backpack recipients will be invited to stay and watch karate classes going on during the afternoons of the giveaways.

Taftville VFW backpack program organizer Ruth Rushford said the VFW Post 2212 Auxiliary bought 100 backpacks and received donations for all the supplies to be loaded into them. Schoolchildren must pick up the bags in person and may choose the bag of their choice, Rushford said.

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