Former University of Maryland point guard Greivis Vasquez visited College Park on Saturday to donate backpacks and school supplies to more than 500 area youths.
The Greivis Vasquez Foundation — the charity created by the Brooklyn Nets guard — partnered with the Latin American Youth Center to hold the third annual Backpack Bash. The event, held at the College Park Community Center on Saturday, gave free backpacks to attendees, said Efrem Knight, Vasquez's personal business manager and the president of the Greivis Vasquez Foundation.
As the school year begins, supplies such as backpacks, pencils and paper are necessary for kids to start the school year right, said community wellness director of the Latin American Youth Center Michael Leon.
"Getting quality back to school stuff will make these kids really feel good about going back to school," Leon said. "It's so out of reach for a lot of families."
Giving back to the community that means so much to Vasquez and his family is something he takes very seriously, Knight said.
"We know it's important when you're getting ready to go back to school to have everything that you need to go to school, and in these rough times sometimes [that is] not as easy," Knight said.
The event featured stations to create fun for the family, including a dunk tank, bounce houses, free haircuts and a firetruck for the children.
"We try to provide a lot of things that's going to make it a good day, and on top of that, you get to go home with all the supplies you need for school and start school happy," Knight said.
About 700 people attended the Backpack Bash, Knight said, including District 1 Councilman Fazlul Kabir, who said he is aware that many families in the community need help and sees that "our families in the district benefit" from the event.
The most enjoyable part of the bash is just how important giving back is to Vasquez and to the College Park community, Knight said.
"[This event] is necessary – that's the simple way of putting it," he said. "We do what's necessary. When you're blessed, you have to give those blessings back. … it's worth it."
Vasquez helped hand out backpacks and school supplies and took pictures with families.
"[The Backpack Bash] is very important to me because through my foundation, I'm able to give back to a community that did so much. … I can never forget where I came from."
Although a last minute change of venue from Duvall Field to the community center could have hurt attendance, it matched that of previous years, Knight said. The size of the event grows each year, Knight said. He hopes the bash will continue to be an annual event.