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Hartford students gear up for new school year at Dunkin' Donuts Park

Hartford Public Schools system's “Back to School Celebration” returns.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Just steps from the first base line at Dunkin' Donuts Park, a different line entirely formed; one made up of students and families from all over the Hartford area eager for the upcoming school year.

Hartford Public Schools welcomed students to the “Back to School Celebration”, a sort of one-stop shop for essentials needed as the school year approaches.

“If you have anything left on your back-to-school checklist, if you need to complete to make sure your transportation is in place, you can do that while you’re here,” said Nuchette Black-Burke.

Black-Burke is the chief engagement and partnerships officer from Hartford Public Schools.

RELATED: Connecticut school supplies more expensive amid inflation

Less than two weeks before the first day of school, which is Aug. 29, Black-Burke added that with the pressures of inflation, an event like that Back to School Celebration is especially timely.

“We understand inflation is through the roof – the cost of living is going up, so if we can help families in any way, that’s the best part,” she said.

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Estimates from Hartford Public Schools were that -- between students and families -- around 2,000 people showed up at Dunkin’ Donuts Park to load up on school supplies, meet with Hartford Public Schools professionals, get a physical, and even a COVID-19 vaccine if desired.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving was on hand with 4,000 backpacks to distribute to students free of charge.

 “These are folks that have experienced a bunch of different challenges – just getting their kids ready to go to school… this is getting folks started right, at the right time,” said Joel Hicks-Rivera, the senior community impact officer from the Hartford Foundation.

RELATED: Back-to-school with COVID-19 variants and monkeypox outbreaks

Hartford’s Chris Medina, a father of a pre-kindergarten student, had gathered a number of supplies for the school year.

“It’s just good for the community to give resources to everybody and it also brings people together,” Medina said.

“This is a whole vibe for our students and their families,” Black-Burke added.

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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