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13th Annual Back to School Bash Ocala

OCALA — Students and parents jammed the E.D. Croskey Center in northwest Ocala on Saturday for the 13th Back to School Bash.

For sisters Erika Warren and Gina Hamilton — with 15 children, ages one month to 14 in one household — the event was a welcome relief in their back-to-school preparations.

“This is a blessing. I can’t provide everything my kids need for school. This is awesome,” said Warren, a mom to seven who works as a customer service representative.

Warren’s son Malachi Green, a middle school student, and Hamilton’s daughter, Azhanti Williams, who is entering seventh grade, walked through the auditorium filled with information booths and displays.

“I like going back to school (because) I want to get a good education,” said Azhanti, 12.

Lena Smith, [CLSMF Pro Bono Manager and] one of the event organizers, said at least 1,000 students left with a backpack filled with school supplies customized for elementary, middle and high school.

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