Group to host backpack giveaway


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Aushpreet Brar of Madera Ford gives Omar Martinez a backpack during a distribution in 2019.

The last time Madera Ford held a backpack giveaway, it was a hit with a community and they gave away 335 backs in just a couple of hours.


After not getting a chance to host the event last year due to COVID, Madera Ford Fleet Manager Mitch Riegelhuth didn’t want this year to pass them by.


Reigelhuth has organized a Madera Ford Back to School Backpack Giveaway on July 31 at the dealership (200 S. Madera Ave.) from 9 a.m-1 p.m. for children kindergarten-eighth grade.


Two years ago, Madera Ford gave away 335 backpacks, but Reigelhuth has ordered 400 backpacks for this year’s giveaway.


“We just wanted to go with more,” he said. “They are going to be good backpacks. K-4th will have crayons and the 5th on up will have other stuff for the age groups.”


The only thing Reigelhuth requires is that a parent is present with the child and they show identification they are from Madera.

“They don’t have to show us their income. We’re doing this for the children,” he said.


Aushpreet Brar will have the daunting task of filling each of the 400 backpacks.


“I have some friends that will come to have some backpacks made,” she said. “I’m taking the responsibility to fill the bags. It will be kind of fun to get some friends together.”


In addition to giving the backpacks away, Reigelhuth wants to send a message to every kid that there’s somebody out there that cares for them.


“Just because they may look different, be a different nationality or race, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “They are children. People get profiled everyday. Before I got sick, I got profiled every day because I had long hair and a beard. Even when I got sick, people saw me in a different light”


Reigelhuth was involved in some anti-bullying campaigns in the mountain areas and wants to spread the word in Madera.


“We want the kids to feel like even if your parents can’t get all of your school supplies, we want to help with that,” Brar said.


Two years ago, parents had to sign their child up to receive a backpack. This year, because of how it was planned, Reigelhuth is just having the kids line up to get it.


“We talked about it a month ago, but it fell through our fingers,” he said. “About two weeks ago, we though we had to do it. It’s a good thing I have Aushpreet because she’s done a lot of the planning.”


Reigelhuth knows that some of the reactions he gets are the reasons why he wants to do this event for Madera Ford.


“The reaction from everyone was great from the last giveaway,” he said. “I saw some parents teary-eyed. All the employees get a sense of pride that we’re doing this. None of the other dealerships in town step up. We’re a multi-cultural dealership.”


Later in the year, Reigelhuth and Madera Ford will have a bicycle giveaway near Christmas time to also benefit the children of Madera.


Although some COVID restrictions have been lifted, Reigelhuth is still having families line up socially distanced from each other.


“Masks aren’t required, but it’s up to them. It’s not a drive-through event,” he said. “There will only be a certain amount of people allowed inside at times to receive the backpacks.”

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