While the Mariano Rivera Foundation supports youth initiatives in locations across the globe, the organization showed this week that it continues to make Delaware one of its priorities.
Just in time for the start of school, about 1,000 Delaware school children this week received brand new backpacks filled with school supplies donated by the Mariano Rivera Foundation. Families with young children queued up at locations in Dover, Wilmington and Georgetown to see hundreds of backpacks and choose the one of their liking.
The Foundation learned that 50 military families at the Dover Air Force Base had the need for free backpacks, and hundreds came from the Wilmington Head Start and Latin American Community Center to take part in the giveaway. Several schools in each locality also sent students to the free backpack festival.
Five-time World Series Champion and legendary pitcher Mariano Rivera played 19 seasons for the New York Yankees. Three years into his career, the iconic relief pitcher was inspired to give back, and he created the Mariano Rivera Foundation. While the foundation has supported natural disaster relief efforts, its main focus is to provide guidance and supplies to impoverished youth and school children.
Backpack giveaway organizer and lead Mariano Rivera Foundation volunteer Russ Silberglied said, “It’s special when you can see with your own eyes the people you are helping. We had kids that were beaming when they saw backpacks with cool designs like pizza, sharks, pineapples, you name it, while others like ones with solids but fun colors. You could tell that the parents were most grateful for the supplies that were on the inside.”
Funds for the backpacks were raised at the Mariano Rivera Foundation 5K in May and the special meet and greet event with the baseball legend himself at a donor’s home that same weekend. Many of the same volunteers who worked the 5K also helped with assembling the backpacks and helping with distribution.
Executive Director Naomi Gandia resides in Delaware and is credited with keeping Delaware at the forefront of some of the Foundation’s initiatives. “Naomi is an inspiration. Without her vision and boundless energy, none of this would be possible,” said Silberglied.