Spokane Salvation Army and Cenex Zip Trip host drive-through ‘Backpacks for Kids’ distribution

Despite the pandemic, The Salvation Army of Spokane, Washington, in collaboration with Cenex Zip Trip, distributed 3,138 new backpacks—representing 1,277 families—with school supplies and face masks to local students, grades K-12, at the 11th Annual Backpacks for Kids event August 12.    

Because of COVID-19 precautions, the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center allowed The Salvation Army to host this annual event drive-through style in its large parking lot as it couldn’t be held on The Salvation Army’s Spokane campus.

Volunteers gather information from families participating in The Salvation Army of Spokane’s 11th Annual Backpacks for Kids distribution.

Children were still able to choose what they wanted, as they simply pointed to and asked for their age-appropriate backpacks that were on tables.  Volunteers then put the backpacks in the cars and gave each family a resource bag with information and goodies from local sponsors.   

Since its inception in 2010, The Salvation Army of Spokane has distributed approximately 47,000 backpacks to local youth; allowing children to return to school with the tools needed to assist in their educational growth. 

Boomer, mascot of the Spokane Chiefs hockey team, passes out a backpack at The Salvation Army of Spokane’s 11th Annual Backpacks for Kids distribution.

During July, Cenex Zip Trip collected donations at its convenience stores for this cause.  As a thank you, contributors received a coupon for a free 20-ounce fountain soda or 20-ounce coffee.   

 Even during this challenging time, Cenex Zip Trip raised more than $31,000. In the past 10 years that Cenex Zip Trip has partnered with Backpacks for Kids, it has raised close to $450,000 for this event.  

Major Ken Perine of the Spokane Salvation Army (l) and Loren Culp, Republican candidate for Washington State governor, who spoke to and passed out backpacks to children at The Salvation Army of Spokane’s 11th Annual Backpacks for Kids event.

“This year has been challenging to say the least,” said Spokane Citadel Corps Office Major Ken Perine. “Thanks to Cenex Zip Trip, its customers and the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, we were still able to help thousands of students as they return to school. When children are prepared for the new school year—even if it’s virtual—their performance in the classroom improves.”

A celebratory group photo following a successful backpacks distribution. The event saw hundreds of volunteers help during the day.

The Salvation Army also thanks Avista, BECU, Molina and United Healthcare for their contributions to this event, as well as the many groups and individuals who volunteered to help prepare local school children for the new school season.


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