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Suns, Mercury go back to school with successful backpack drive

PHOENIX — A few hundred students in the Valley went home Wednesday with new backpacks and school supplies, from the Phoenix Suns and Mercury.

The teams’ mascots, along with former Sun Tim Kempton, surprised students at Loma Linda Elementary School with 100 backpacks collected in a supplies drive.

“You don’t want to feel different in a school environment. You want to be part of the group,” said Kempton, who played for the Suns 1992-93. “That’s hopefully what this is accomplishing, and giving them a little bit more confidence about going into the school year.”

The students are part of the nonprofit organization Playworks, which provides coaches for recess and anti-bullying techniques to hundreds of schools across the country.

The Suns collected 525 backpacks at two Valley Harkins Theatres on Saturday, while Mercury fans donated an additional 175 backpacks before Friday night’s game.