Grand Canyon University and Back to School Clothing Drive Announce Expansion of Annual Clothing Distribution

June 29, 2012



Karl Gentles
                         Meghan Walbert
Grand Canyon University

 Grand Canyon University and Back to School Clothing Drive Announce
            Partnership, Expansion of Annual Clothing Distribution

                 Participants and volunteers benefit from move to college campus 


(Phoenix, AZ) - A new partnership between Back to School Clothing Drive and Grand Canyon University moves the state's largest clothing distribution to the GCU Arena. In addition to receiving more than $1.8 million in new school clothes and supplies, the 10,000 elementary school students participating in the event will experience a college environment and hands-on learning opportunities, July 16-25.

"Bringing these students on campus will show them a college education is attainable," said Karl Gentles, executive director of Back to School Clothing Drive. "In many cases this will be the first time they have been to a university. We want to close the loop between preparing them for school today and seeking a higher education tomorrow. We also have a number of high school volunteers and I can see them benefiting from this university exposure as well."

"We have a high regard for the Back to School Clothing Drive program and we wanted to get involved on a significant level," said Cathey Moses, vice president of event planning and marketing at Grand Canyon University. "Education is our passion and being able to affect so many children at once made this a natural fit."

GCU joins a list of committed partners including BHHS Legacy Foundation, the largest sponsor of the event; Bank of America, which hosts a Valley-wide supply drive each year; KPHO CBS 5 which raises awareness through its Pay it Forward campaign, along with Cox Communications and Wells Fargo; Delta Dental of Arizona, long-time donor of hygiene items; Papa Murphy's, a new donor of pizza; Intel; USAA; and, the cities of Phoenix, Glendale, and Chandler. New volunteer organizations for 2012 include Jack and Jill of Phoenix, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and GlaxoSmithKline. They join civic and corporate volunteer groups including National Charities League, Boys Team Charities, Westcor, Valley of the Sun Kiwanis, General Dynamics, and Pinnacle West.

"On the surface we give out shoes and clothes, uniforms, and backpacks but the reality is we prepare these kids to be successful by building their self-esteem and self-confidence," said Gentles. "Those are the things they will never outgrow." About 5,500 students, 1,000 per day, in grades K-6, will be on campus directly to participate in the event.

Another 4,500 students in Northern Arizona and select Valley nonprofits will get backpacks stuffed with school supplies through a longstanding partnership with the BHHS Legacy Foundation's Backpack Buddies program.

Now in its 17th year, New Clothes, New Beginnings has helped more than 150,000 Title 1 students. Even better, it's executed in a way that makes the kids feel extra special. In addition to having a "personal shopper" to help them navigate the departments and select clothes and accessories, students are visited throughout the week by surprise guests which have included Major League Baseball All Star and Arizona Diamondback Luis Gonzalez, Team USA softball star Jennie Finch, Arizona sports team mascots, and others.

Founded in 1967, Back to School Clothing Drive ( is Arizona's oldest and largest provider of new school outfits, uniforms, backpacks and school supplies to children in need. Through its 188-member schools, the organization helps more than 25,000 K-6 grade students annually through its three signature programs: the New Clothes, New Beginnings Distribution; Student Attire For Education (SAFE) Matching Grant and Retail Social Enterprise; and, Stitches of Love sewing group. The organization operates on an annual budget of approximately $1.3 million, three employees, a 14-member board of directors and more than 2,500 volunteers.

Mission: To provide new school outfits and uniforms, backpacks and school supplies to children in need.
1212 E. Washington St., Phoenix, Arizona 85034  Phone 602-256-9408  Fax 602-256-9409