The region’s largest private homebuilder, Neal Communities, and its trade partners raised a record $26,375 as the presenting sponsor of the 24th Annual BIG Backpack Event on July 30, 2023.
Hosted by the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida, the annual BIG Backpack Event provided 2,500 backpacks filled with school supplies and groceries to area families with children ages 5 to 12. More than 200 volunteers, including Neal Communities’ employees and trade partners, assisted with packing supplies and distribution at the event, which took place in a drive-thru at the Fort Myers Skatium.
“We look forward to this event and helping local families as they prepare for the upcoming school year,” said Tim Oak, south region president of Neal Communities. “In addition to our company’s sponsorship, our employees and trade partners collect donations and we volunteer to help. I’m thrilled that we were able to assist so many families this year.”
This was the eighth consecutive year that Neal Communities was the presenting sponsor of the BIG Backpack Event, and this year’s donation was the largest to date collected by the homebuilder. With a core belief that “Where You Live Matters,” Neal Communities has given more than $7.75 million to local charities throughout Southwest Florida and is committed to the communities where they live, work and build.
“There are no words that can describe the deep appreciation that we have for Neal Communities,” said Leonardo Garcia, the founder of the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida and event co-chair. “Thanks to Neal Communities, we have served close to 50,000 students in Southwest Florida over the years. Their support is much appreciated and needed.”
Other event sponsors this year included the City of Fort Myers, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Lee County School District, CONRIC pr + marketing, HABA, Macaroni KID and Midwest Foods.
Many families in the region continue to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Ian. Garcia said the BIG Backpack Event provided much needed relief, supplying children with new backpacks filled with pencils, pens, paper, crayons, folders and other essential back-to-school items as well as coupons and other giveaways.
“Ensuring that these families have what they need to start the school year off right is what motivates us to keep doing this year after year,” Garcia said. “We don’t want to see any family struggle and go without.”