Backpacks fly around the Meriden green as firefighters help families prepare for new school year

Meriden families got a head start on their preparations for the new school year.
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2022 at 9:38 PM EDT
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MERIDEN, CT (WFSB) - Meriden families got a head start on their preparations for the new school year.

The Meriden Fire Department stepped up and handed out thousands of dollars’ worth of school supplies during a giveaway on Friday.

Backpacks full of school supplies flew around the Meriden Green Amphitheater and onto the arms of local families.

The department said it looked at the event as an opportunity to give back to the community it serves.

Meriden firefighters said they raise the money to pay for the all the goodies and then team up with other volunteers like Brooke Kemish to stuff the bags and hand them out.

“It’s exciting to see them getting supplies and getting ready for school,” Kemish said.

“We see a lot of the same faces year after year and it’s a nice way for them to kind of get excited about the school year and it’s always good to interact with the community” said Matt Avery, a Meriden firefighter.

Firefighters said they handed out 800 bags full of supplies on Friday and they have distributed around 10,000 over the past decade or so.

William Graham showed up early with his two boys. He said his family has a long history with the giveaway.

“I remember doing it when I was a kid, and it really helps. It’s helps parents save money and get more stuff for the kids for back to school,” Graham said. “Thank you for making it happen because it makes a big difference.”

The event, which happened less than 2 weeks before Meriden’s first day of school, has grown every year. Now, other agencies participate and the school district’s food and nutrition services hands out free meals. The giveaway makes people proud to be part of Meriden.

“The community is so civic minded,” said Susan Maffe, director, Food and Nutrition Services. “We get volunteers all the time. This is a massive undertaking for the firefighters, and we are so proud that we are able to be a part of it.”