City of Austin employees give away 1,500 'back-to-school' backpacks

Austin City Hall was packed with back-to-school backpacks on Friday.

"We're hoping to give away 1500 backpacks and this is just City employees reaching into their pockets," said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

It's the City's "Build a Backpack" & school supplies drive. Basically City employees helping out families in the community who need the help. School supplies can be expensive.

"If you have 3 kids, 4 kids and you're having to find school supplies for all of them, it could be hundreds of dollars," Adler said.

"I think if I were to go and buy everything that's on our list, it would cost probably over $100," said Galindo Elementary teacher Mandi Travis.

Travis says they sent a blanket invite to the parents.

"We have a really high refugee population and so we did invite all of the refugees. A lot of their parents don't have transportation, things like that so it is really hard for them to get to stores to buy the things they need for school," Travis said.

FOX 7 Austin asked Travis's daughter 4-year-old Reese Travis why she chose her "Trolls" backpack: "Because I like Poppy," she said.

Reese's mom says Reese has seen the movie like…500 times.

"She has the books, she has the toys, and now she has the backpacks," Travis said.

And the question we've all been wanting to ask Mayor Adler: Did you have a cool backpack as a kid?

"For us it was a lunchbox, these old metal lunchboxes and I could just remember that feeling, I could remember having just a new set of pencils," Adler said.

Joselyn Gonzalez's 3 kids go to Walnut Creek Elementary. She's thankful for what the City's doing.

"It's a lot of help, helping the kids with the backpacks. It helps economically and the emotion the kids get from receiving the new backpacks before entering school," Gonzalez said.

"I think kids get really excited when they know they get something that's for them. A lot of kids get their older brother's backpack or just whatever is given to them at school," Travis said. "It's really just great for the kids to come to school prepared and not feeling embarrassed that they don't have what they need."

The City says the backpacks this year made their way to 13 Austin-area elementary, middle and high schools as well as Austin ISD Refugee and Immigrant Services, and Gardner Betts Juvenile Center.