TAMPA (FOX 13) - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida Hospital teamed up with WWE star Titus O'Neil to throw a free Back-to-School Bash for Hillsborough County students on Saturday.
O'Neil says he knows, from personal experience, just how hard it can be for families to make ends meet for back-to-school shopping.
"I grew up in a single-parent home under very unfortunate circumstances and a lot of the things that we couldn’t afford. My mom couldn’t afford eyeglasses, she couldn’t afford physicals, so sometimes we were excluded from playing sports. Immunization shots, all of the things that are going to be available to these kids and families out here," O'Neil said.
Organizers gave away 15,000 backpacks filled with school supplies and the turnout was larger than expected.
The line extended down the walkway and into Raymond Jame Stadium at Gate D, and even spread out across Tampa Bay Boulevard.
Mike McCollum with the Hillsborough Education Foundation says the large turnout directly correlates with amount of need there is in the County.
"We anticipate the need to be close to 98,000 students [sic] this year. So the need is great and events like today really help us to meet that need," McCollum said.
The Back-to-School Bash served as a one-stop-shop for back to school health appointments that would have taken families time and money to coordinate.
"If we didn't have this [sic] we'd have to take time off to take care of it.. and it would be really expensive as well," said Eddie Gomez, a father of three.