FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Thousands of Valley kids are stocked up on school supplies for the upcoming year. ABC30 and the United Way of Fresno County partnered again for this year's Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway.
With huge smiles on their faces, thousands of kids received brand-new backpacks. Each one was stuffed with books, pencils, and other supplies.
The kids, and their parents, are excited for the jump start on the new school year.
"With times being what they are," said Kathryn Walker of Fresno. "Everybody needs a little help now and then."
Walker waited in line for more than eight hours to get backpacks for her two kids. The line wrapped all the way around Eaton Plaza in Downtown Fresno Friday evening.
With temperatures around the century mark, three people were treated for heat-related illness. But most people came prepared. Tarps, umbrellas and coolers sat along the line.
Parents say this might seem like a small gesture, but giving away backpacks with school supplies goes a long way.
"This right here is going to be such a great help, because this is going to mean we get more clothes for them," said Fresno mother Penny Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says last year the backpacks and supplies meant an extra $50 in her wallet for those school clothes. That's exactly what the United Way hopes to see.
"Spend your money on food, clothing and housing and we'll take care of the backpacks for the kids," said United Way of Fresno County President and CEO Michael Alexander.
The annual giveaway is growing, he said. "Last year we had about 1,200, but we didn't have enough. We have some great sponsors, including ABC30, to give us the money we need to go to 2,500 this year."
Dozens of volunteers helped hand out the backpacks. And people on both sides of this line are grateful for the generosity.
"We've got eight kids so it really helped us out, getting ready for them to go back to school on Monday," said Fresno dad Jadden Harrington.
"It's really inspiring to see the kids when they get their backpacks, they have a big smile and they say thank you," Alexander said. "And we say you're welcome, because that's the community giving back to our kids."