(WTNH) – Equipping students for a successful school year. That’s how a group of firefighters in Meriden started their morning.

One item at a time, backpacks were filled with what could be called the building blocks for a successful school year.

This is the 19th year for the Back to School Expo. Meriden Firefighter’s Union Local 1148 has been the sponsor since 2012.

Volunteers are stuffing backpacks with just about everything students need.

Now, in its 10th year of sponsoring the expo, the firefighters have given away over 10,000 backpacks, greatly impacting a community in more than one way.

A total of 800 backpacks are being filled with school items such as sharpies and rulers. Then, each backpack is passed out to families in Meriden, free of charge for as long as they last.

Parents and their children lined up bright and early for the giveaway. They learned about it through the power of social media.  

“For the high schoolers, they tend to do a binder and things for the kids to start. We sit you down and calculate it and it comes down to about $200 for three kids,” said Emeli Morales-Varona.

The expo is not only feeding the mind but also the body. At the end of the line, the Food and Nutrition Services of Meriden is offering free lunches.

“Today, they have a choice of peanut butter and jelly sandwich or turkey sandwich, along with a juice, white milk, or chocolate milk.           

The giveaway is possible thanks to donations from local businesses and organizations. It’s a gesture that’s changing the future of students.