Costco donation boosts Rotary backpack program

With help from Rotary Club of Farragut, Costco Wholesale has donated 420 backpacks to children who may need them.

“We just love giving back to the community. It’s a form of good deed, and it gets Costco’s name out there as a company that makes helping the communities in which we do business part of our business,” Todd Galanti, warehouse manager of Farragut’s Costco Wholesale, said.

Galanti explained about the backpacks to Rotary Club of Farragut members during a Rotary meeting at Farragut’s Costco Wednesday, Aug. 17.

Galanti said Rotary Club of Farragut and other Rotary clubs across East Tennessee would help distribute the backpacks.

“I’m coordinating with David [Smoak], and we’re going to be donating them to several schools on behalf of the Rotary Club … We’ll be making a pretty big donation on all of our behalf,” he said.

“It’s a great thing that Todd from Costco was able to do for us with the backpack program,” David Smoak, president of Rotary Club of Farr-agut and Farragut Town ad-ministrator, said.

Smoak said the club already had given 300 backpacks to Beaumont and Pond Gap as part of a separate Rotary Club charitable effort.

“So, we’re looking at giving those schools and a couple of other ones in Knox County as well as the additional donations that Costco has made,” he said.

Galanti said Rotary volunteers collected the backpacks from Farragut’s Costco off Kingston Pike, Friday, Aug. 19.

He said the backpacks went to area students who are participants in the free lunch program or at least the 50 percent reduced-cost lunch programs. Galanti said the backpacks had rulers and folders the children also would receive.

Apart from Rotary Club, Galanti said Costco already had given 420 backpacks to needy students at West View Elemen-tary and Lonsdale Elementary schools in an earlier donation.

Galanti had talked to Costco management in Seattle and asked about receiving additional backpacks. As a result, he said his store received 12 boxes, with about 30 backpacks in each of them. These backpacks are part of the most recent donation.

The program in East Tennes-see was just part of a broader Costco program, he said.

“Since 1993, 5,191,647 back-packs have been donated by Costco to needy children across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Tai-wan, Korea, Japan, Puerto Rico, Australia, Spain and the U.K., he said. “In 2015 alone, 297,705 backpacks were distributed to all locations.

“This means that Costco, in part, has been able to help make starting school a little easier and a little more fun for many children in need,” he said.