Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center Sets Goal of 800 Backpacks for Special Needs Children Heading Back to School

Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center (CDTC) is hosting its annual Back to School Drive, benefitting hundreds of special needs kids in its care. With a goal of collecting more than 800 filled backpacks by August 6, CDTC is calling on the community to donate to the cause and volunteer.

Whether the start of the new school year will be virtual or in the classroom due to COVID-19, CDTC is pushing ahead with the drive and distribution. Getting ready for a new school year can be a big chore for parents, consuming valuable time and costing on average more than $100 for school supplies. Eighty-five percent of the families at CDTC were living at or below the poverty level before the pandemic stuck and are among the hardest hit financially.

“Our children will still need basic supplies whether they are in the classroom or learning at home,” said Director of Development Jessica Vones. “The gift of a new backpack lightens the burden on our families and prepares our kids for successful learning.”

CDTC is requesting donations of pre-filled backpacks whenever possible to reduce the number of volunteers needed to pack supplies. School supplies can be shipped directly to or dropped off during business hours at CDTC, located at located at 1401 S. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. This year, CDTC is also accepting donations online to assist with purchasing supplies as needed.

The distribution event will also have a new format this year to ensure volunteers and families remain safe. Pre-registered CDTC families will be invited to one of CDTC’s mini brigades in the Center’s parking garage. Volunteers are needed to help load backpacks directly into the trunk of family cars. The new process will provide safe, contactless delivery for both volunteers and families caring for children with special needs.

“We do everything possible to help the families we serve thrive,” said Ana Calderon Randazzo, Ph.D., executive director of CDTC. “Being ready for the classroom – even if it’s virtual – is important to every child’s success in life. We are grateful to the community for helping these amazing and dedicated families prepare for the new school year.”

Backpacks, school supplies and gift card donations will be collected at CDTC through August 6, 2020. For more information about donating school supplies, a current wish list, or to register to volunteer, visit