Operation Backpack gives students in need the tools to succeed

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Friday, July 28, 2017

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The 13th Annual Operation Backpack drive benefiting the YMCA of Greater Houston is set for Friday, Aug. 4. The YMCA has partnered with ABC13 to make sure students in need won't have to worry about how they'll get their work done once it's time to go back to class. The students will be equipped with the tools they'll need to succeed.

Last year, the drive set a record, with viewers helping to donate enough school supplies for more than 105,000 students.

Ronaldo Padron and his son, Ronaldo Padron Jr., said a simple backpack they received from last year's drive became a game changer, helping to get Ronaldo through third grade.

"I was stressed, I felt like giving up," said Padron, of life at the time. Fresh out of a homeless shelter, struggling to hold down a job and keep a roof over their heads, affording school supplies didn't top the list of priorities for the father and son. A bunch of mean spirited kids at Ronaldo Jr.'s school made it even worse, tearing apart the backpack he had at the time, his father sewing it up before it was torn apart again.

"I was in tears, I was so angry, but then somebody said come here, they want to talk to you out in the gym. I went and y'all were giving out backpacks," said Padron, recalling the Operation Backpack event held at his local Greater Houston YMCA branch.

Partnering with ABC13, the YMCA's operation backpack takes donations of new backpacks and school supplies and distributes them to more than 120,000 Houston-area children in need, throughout 36 different districts.

This year, Ronaldo Jr. will head back to school, equipped with all the loot he'll need to do his school work and a stylish "Deadpool" backpack, thanks to donations to the Operation Backpack drive.