HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s become a pre-school tradition in Holyoke where the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department distributes backpacks by the hundreds to deserving students.

At McNally Field Saturday, hundreds of school kids waited to receive their pre-school gift, a generous offering from Sheriff Nick Cocchi’s team. The event having a positive impact shaping the character of children from the inner city.

Saturday’s event was the 11th consecutive year that the Sheriff’s department has invited neighborhood children to receive backpacks and other gifts.

Eddie Caisse of the Hampden County Sherriff’s Department told 22News, “This back-to-school event is a very special event for us. We have haircuts to send the kids back to school, we’re giving away 500 backpacks.”

The Sheriff’s Department is building a relationship with neighborhood children, hoping to influence the future course of their young lives.