UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) –  Back to school will be here before we know it, and the Muslim Community Association of Mohawk Valley is working with ICNA Relief, the sponsor of the event, to help local students prepare for the upcoming school year. From 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, August 13 at City Hall Plaza in Utica, residents can stop by to pick up school supplies, as well as check out a free health care clinic and pop-up Pfizer vaccine site.

ICNA Relief will handout approximately 6,000 backpacks at 29 back to school events this year.

“We seem to have gotten through the worst of the pandemic as a community, and so with kids going back to school if there is any little thing that we can do to help that then we want to be there helping that,” said Tom Facchine, the Imam of the Muslim Community Association of Mohawk Valley.

The organization’s president, Dr. Mohsin Syed, added, “This will be possible because of the volunteers from different medical providers, doctors, as well as nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants.”

Joining the medical staff at the event will be Utica mayor Robert Palmieri and Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon. These local leaders will be at the event distributing at least 500 backpacks. In the past two years, they ran out within the first two hours, so they recommend that people get there early if they can, and that they bring their kids with them.

Dr. Syed explained, “There will be candies and some other brochures as well to support them and entertain them.” They want kids to be present at the event “to prevent people taking too many bags.”

“Bring your child and take bags and supplies as well as while you’re there waiting for this to be done have your blood pressure checked if you haven’t gone to a health care provider or get your cholesterol, or get your blood sugar checked. Any of those things can be done right there,” Dr. Syed said.

If you’re looking to help out you can send monetary donations to ICNA Relief or the Muslim Community Association of Mohawk Valley with a note that your donation is for the backpack drive. You can also head on out to City Hall Plaza in the afternoon on Friday, August 13 to help set up and hand out supplies.