Stio backpacks 2

Eden Roper, a Jackson Elementary School first grader, was one of 100 recipients who received Stio backpacks as part of a partnership with the Fund for Public Education to promote free and reduced lunch program applications.

Spreading a bit of holiday cheer, Stio gave away 100 backpacks to public school students before they took off for winter break.

The outdoor retailer, in partnership with the Fund for Public Education, randomly distributed the packs to children who signed up for the Free and Reduced Lunch Application before the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Although every student has received free lunches during the pandemic, the optional applications help the district qualify for funding to support students in need.

Lori Crabtree, Community Outreach Director for the Fund, said the application appears on every student’s back-to-school registration but not every student fills it out. She is hoping the backpacks spread awareness for the program; each one came with a flier describing the importance of applying.

“The data collected on the application is critical to our school district qualifying for essential federal and state grants. District-wide benefits from this funding include enrichment and intervention services and support for students at risk, professional development for teachers, administrators, and support staff,” the flier stated.

Crabtree said she hopes to make the Stio partnership an annual tradition.

Contact Evan Robinson-Johnson at 732-5901 or

Evan Robinson-Johnson covers issues residents face on a daily basis, from smoky skies to housing insecurity. Originally from New England, he has settled in east Jackson and avoids crowds by rollerblading through the alleyways.

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