IMMOKALEE, Fla.- Immokalee-based Lipman, a tomato growing company, gave away 700 backpacks to kids in need.
Lipman partnered up with the Collier County Sheriff's Office for National Night Out, featuring dozens of vendors on hand to provide resources to families.
A crowd gathered at the Immokalee Sports Complex and waited for hours for the event to begin.
People began lining up as early as 1 p.m. for the 5 p.m. giveaway.
Maria Reyes was one of the first in line.
The 7th grader was excited to get a new backpack. "Some kids, their parents don't have money, so it's nice they are giving backpacks to them so they can go to school and be happy. It makes me feel special."
Jaime Weisinger with Lipman says this is the first time they held the backpack event, after seeing the need in the community. "We've seen people struggling in this town for a long time, so we wanted to be able to provide the basic necessities for kids to be able to go to school and have the supplies they need to get ahead," he says.
And that need is overwhelming in the area. The Collier County School District's website says about 97% of Immokalee Middle School students are considered low income, and about 93% of Immokalee High School students.
Weisinger says, "this economy has touched everybody not just in the big cities but in these small agricultural communities, so they need all the help they can get and we're very proud to be able to help them."
He says they held a softball tournament earlier this year to raise money and donations for the backpack giveaway, and many other local organizations offered their services for the event.
The sheriff's office was also on hand as part of National Night Out. The festivities continue until 8 p.m.