SJ community center holds backpack giveaway for students

August 9, 2013 12:45:30 PM PDT
Hundreds of Bay Area kids are now equipped for the start of the academic year thanks to the efforts of a South Bay charity, that gave away needed supplies to children in need on Friday.

The event was by appointment only, so it was busy all day as students grabbed their favorite backpacks off the walls.

Organizers say even though the economy is improving the need for school supplies continues to grow.

School starts next week for many students in San Jose, but being ready for the first day of classes is not a given for some families.

"I'm a single mom so it's a great help, you know, for the children and for myself as well," parent Maria Lezama said.

In 2002, 150 backpacks were handed out. This year, a record 2,462 were donated to low-income students.

Organizers say many people are starting to get jobs, but often it's not enough.

"They were talking about the difficulties of meeting rent that has been going on up. And partly that's because even though they are getting jobs they're probably underemployed at this time," Sacred Heart Community Service spokesperson Jay Percot said.

Organizers say the recent statewide test scores showed a slight drop and the achievement gap for low income students is widening.

They say the supplies they get will help them in class leading to a better life years down the road.

"I have some advanced classes and I need to get some special binders and notebooks and things like that, so being able to get these without having to pay is pretty cool," student Helen Reyes said.

All of the items were donated by the community. This is the 11th year for the program that helps out low income families and the biggest one yet.

Sacred Heart Community Service is also helping take care of some of the practical needs.

Students will be getting new socks and underwear and also a gift card for some new shoes.

The backpacks will be filled with age appropriate supplies; the younger kids will get items like crayons and the older kids will get calculators.


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