CARLSBAD — The dog days of August mean the first day of school is coming fast.
On Saturday, 500 underserved San Diego County students ranging from first grade through high school were treated to free backpacks, school supplies and a day of fun at the Henry Schein Orthodontic Group.
It was the fifth annual “Back to School” event for the health care provider in Carlsbad. The event featured music, food, games, science experiments and of course, supplies and a free book.
“They have a ton of school supplies in the bag,” said Tracy Corea, human resource manager at the orthodontic group.
The company worked with San Diego Youth Services, Operation Hope and the San Marcos Boys and Girls Club to identify students in need of supplies for the upcoming school year, Corea said.
It is one of the biggest philanthropic events of the year for the Carlsbad location of Henry Schein, which is a global provider in dental care, animal health and medical practitioners.
Dozens of the volunteers also joined in the effort and day of fun. Each year the event develops a new theme, and this year was dedicated to science.
The kids and parents were treated to a show of various experiments and after getting their backpacks, numerous kids were doused with a dry-ice shower.
“Each year we try and pick some new agencies to try and help,” Corea said. “All of the kids are picked up and brought here. They are so appreciative of the supplies and it makes a huge difference in their lives.”
As for the kids, they counted down the seconds until they could line up and get their backpacks and books. The excited youngsters immediately swung the bags over their shoulders with brimming smiles.
Then came the hard part — choosing from a selection of books. Schein donated all the supplies, Corea said.
“This is one of our biggest ones (community service projects),” she explained. “Each year gets bigger and better.”
The New York-based company, meanwhile, started giving back to kids in 1998 and has expanded the program over the past 18 years, Corea added. In 2015, their efforts reached 5,000 children in North America and to more than 32,000 kids since 1998.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.