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United Way of Lancaster County


One week left to register for Back to School Giveaway

Giveaway banner

If you've been putting off registering your child for state Rep. Mike Sturla's 9th Annual Back-to-School Giveaway — don't delay further!

The deadline is one week away, on 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14. Unlike past years, organizers have said they can't accept walk-up registrations this time around, due to the logistics required to stay safe from coronavirus.

To register, visit

Meanwhile, the initiative is continuing to solicit volunteers interested in helping with packing and distribution, said Francis Miliano, legislative assistant to Sturla, a Democrat who represents Pennsylvania's 96th District.

Backpacks by appointment

Each year, the giveaway provides School District of Lancaster students entering kindergarten through eighth grade with free backpacks with school uniforms, shoes and other supplies.

Normally, the giveaway is held at Clipper Magazine Stadium and features food, music and other attractions.

This year, to accommodate social distancing precautions, families must set up an appointment to pick up the backpacks. The plan is to distribute them by Aug. 22.

So far, about 500 students have been registered, but Miliano said "we know those numbers are going to spike" as the deadline approaches.

As for volunteers, about 80 are on board, thanks to partner organizations, but having more is always helpful, Miliano said, and will ensure that all planned distribution times can be fully staffed. To volunteer, call Sturla's district office at (717) 295-3157, email Miliano at or use the Lancaster County United Way's signup page.

Like districts nationwide, the School District of Lancaster has been evaluating how best to educate its students safely during the pandemic. It now plans to begin classes 100% online, but hopes to move to a hybrid model that incorporates in-person classes.

In line with that intention, this year's giveaway will follow past practice and provide uniforms, shoes and school supplies. Students will also receive two to three reusable face masks, provided through local donations, including a $10,000 Lancaster Cares grant.

Financial donations to help with the giveaway can be made through the Lancaster Recreation Center, Miliano said. To contribute, visit and pick "Rep. Sturla's Back to School Event" from the "Select a campaign" drop-down menu.

Any unused funds will be put toward next year's giveaway, the 10th anniversary.