The first ones in lines weren't taking any chances. They arrived Thursday night around 10:30. Their willingness to camp out speaks to the level of need. 13-year-old Lisbeth Gomez arrived a little later at 3 a.m. "I want to be able to get some backpacks for me and my family," she said. She was registering for herself, her two younger brothers, and two younger sisters. "My dad's having a really hard difficult time finding a job and to raise five kids and I think this is a good opportunity for us to come and have backpacks," she said.
Sacred Heart Community Service has been handing out free backpacks for ten years. The first year, organizers gave away 150. This year, the goal is 2,300. "That's our estimate for this year. Unfortunately, we keep having to push our number up. We can't satisfy all the need," Jay Pecot said. So far this year, about 300 packs and a handful of school supplies have been donated from individuals and companies, a true community effort. "My job as an individual, but I think our job as a community, to help these kids succeed because we believe that's one of the number one tools for changing the cycle of poverty for a lot of families," Pecot said.
It's certainly a money-saver for families. "This helps the needy families that need backpacks and stuff for their kids to start school and this is a big help for them," Shauntelle Balzeit said. And, it can be a life-saver for a young student. "It's hard to learn because when we need notebooks, it's hard because I can't write my notes that I need to study for a test," Lisbeth said.
Click here if you'd like to donate a backpack, school supplies, or cash. The packs will be handed out In August.