Every year since 2013, Verizon Wireless’ largest authorized dealer, Round Room LLC, purchases backpacks for participating Verizon stores to give away to local youth.
According to local Verizon store manager, Eric Edwards, each store receives up to 220 backpacks, and there are roughly 800 participating stores across the country responsible for giving away 170,000 backpacks every year.
There are 10 Verizon stores in Greater Metro Tucson involved in the yearly giveaway. Edwards’ store, located at 12060 N. Thornydale Road in Marana, usually gives away roughly 100 backpacks.
“We are the slowest [store],” Edwards said, “but that’s because we are all retired people up here, sometimes the other stores get crazy.”
Edwards said he has previously worked at most of the Verizon stores in Tucson, and has experienced the rush firsthand.
One parent in attendance, Elisa LaJoy, said the community appreciates what Verizon does.
“The kids get very excited,” she said.
Alex Calvelli, a sales representative at Edwards’ store, was in charge of handing out the backpacks on Sunday, July 23. He said the stores usually send their Verizon customers a text telling them they can come get free backpacks.
Edwards said that the backpacks are for anyone that can use them, not just Verizon customers. Next year, he will try to get more attention for the giveaway, so more people know in time to participate.
Any remaining backpacks are donated to local schools.
Nate Airula is a Tucson Local Media intern and a student at the University of Arizona, where he is pursuing a degree in journalism with a minor in government and public policy.