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Backpack giveaways to be held Sunday

Wireless Zone stores in eastern Connecticut will be giving away up to 2,500 backpacks from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at locations including New London, Groton and Westerly.

Neil Ryan, who owns with partner Scott Gladstone the three local stores plus four others outside the area, said this is the fourth straight year of the backpack giveaway to anyone who shows up, on a first-come, first-served basis. Unlike events before the pandemic, this one will allow people to drive up to the stores and be handed one backpack filled with school supplies for every child in the household.

"At the end of the day we're going back to school," Ryan said when asked if he had second thoughts about the event this year with questions looming about whether schools will reopen.

He noted that some students shuttle between two households, while others need backpacks to keep schoolwork together as they move from cramped bedrooms to more study-conducive living or dining rooms.

In addition to the backpack giveaway, Wireless Zone nationwide will be encouraging students to enter a scholarship contest that will offer five $10,000 prizes to the lucky winners. No essays or recommendations are required; all you have to do is scan a QR code at a store (you don't even have to go inside).

In addition, Wireless Zone has announced that its foundation recently gave away $40,000 to local charities. Among the winners of the $2,000 grants were Jonnycake Center of Westerly, South County Community Action, Camp Horizons, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Inc., Jewish Federation of Eastern CT, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and Waterford Country School.

"We've been active," Ryan said in a phone interview. "We've been out there, and it's fortunate we can do it."

l.howard@theday.com

 

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