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Nassau PBA and Hempstead Village host separate back-to-school backpack giveaways

Marc Hardy, 5, smiles after receiving a free

Marc Hardy, 5, smiles after receiving a free backpack and getting his bike fixed during a backpack giveaway event at Martin Bunkey Reid Park in Westbury on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

About 1,000 kids and their families turned out Saturday for the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association's back-to-school backpack giveaway in Westbury, one of two similar events in the county.

Families enjoyed hot dogs and games and explored police equipment at Martin "Bunky" Reid Park in Westbury. At noon, a Nassau County Police helicopter landed in the park as children looked on in awe.

Officials ran out of backpacks in about two hours, PBA president James Carver said. Each backpack contained a medley of school supplies, including crayons, notebooks and rulers.

"It further strengthens our bond with the community that they know we're not just there when there's something bad happening," Carver said.

After the inaugural giveaway last August, the PBA had backpacks left over, but this year's larger turnout delighted organizers and local officials.

"Young people have an opportunity to interact with the law enforcement agencies and connect in a way that makes them feel supported," said county Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury), who represents the area.

Jessica Segarra, who traveled from the Bronx, said she had no trouble getting backpacks for her three children, ages 5, 7 and 8. "It was easy and quick," Segarra, 26, said, with an armful of red, blue and black backpacks. "It's great for kids."Gloria Gray, 58, said she had planned ahead for her second year attending. She hosted a sleepover for her five young grandsons and great nephews the night before. "I'm glad it's yearly," said Gray, who lives in nearby New Cassel.

Great-nephew Marc Hardy, 5, and grandson Camaron Freeman, 8, said they're excited to go back to school and use their supplies. Marc will begin first grade and Camaron will enter third grade. Camaron said the helicopter was his favorite part.The PBA and the Nassau County Police Foundation paid for the backpacks and school supplies.

A similar giveaway was held at Bethlehem of Judea Church in Hempstead village. It was sponsored by the village and the ABBA Leadership Center.

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