Before Bills superfan Pancho Billa, or Ezra Castro, lost his battle to cancer, he made a simple request: that in lieu of flowers, people donate backpacks to students instead.
- Ezra Castro, aka Pancho Billa, died on May 14
- 26 Shirts, The Teachers Desk helping to fulfill one of Castro's last wishes
- More than $100K of school supplies being donated to kids
Naturally, the Bills Mafia stepped up, and has since donated $100,000 to The Teachers Desk, meaning 10,000 kids will be receiving a backpack with school supplies.
“Markers, you get glue sticks, you get a three-ring binder, you get two composition notebooks, things like that, filler pads, but then you get fun stuff, you get a stress ball, a fun squeeze ball, coloring books, markers for those and you get a hygiene kit, toothbrush toothpaste, hand sanitizer and Kleenex,” said John Mika, The Teacher’s Desk director.
Volunteers got jumpstart Wednesday before the backpacks are filled at New Era Field on June 10.
4,500 bags will be packed that day, with 3,000 going to Pancho’s hometown of El Paso, Texas, and 1,500 will go to other nonprofits in Western New York. The remaining 5,500 and any other packs that are donated will be distributed throughout the upcoming school year. But no matter who receives the packs, they will know the story of how they got them.
“There’s an incredible cartoon character of Pancho that we just received that’s going to go on every backpack, along with his story on the back of the backpack. So that story, we’re hoping to combine both education and the Bills and the whole story there to make a difference, and I think that’s what’s happening right now and I hope continues to happen,” said Mika.
If you would like to volunteer on June 10 and help fill the backpacks, email firstname.lastname@example.org.