Hundreds line up at Sacred Heart for free backpacks, school supplies

Katie Marzullo Image
ByKatie Marzullo KGO logo
Friday, July 11, 2014
Hundreds register for Sacred Heart's backpack giveaway
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Hundreds of Bay Area families stood in line for hours to get basic school supplies from Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of Bay Area families stood in line for hours at Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose to get free basic school supplies for the coming fall on Friday. The annual giveaway is a stark reminder of the great need in one of the wealthiest areas in the country.

Emily Reyes and her daughters stood in line as early as they could and still ended up at the end of a long line. "We're hoping. We're hoping. Just keep praying, keeping our fingers crossed," Reyes said.

They're not asking for much. The basics that others might take for granted can be budget busters for families that are struggling.

"What would it be like? We'd end up going without something else somewhere down the month," Don Thompson said.

Sacred Heart Community Service hopes to giveaway 2,800 backpacks, each filled with school supplies worth $75.

Organizers say even working families are having a hard time making ends meet, with San Jose being the fourth most expensive city in the country in which to live.

For kids, financial troubles can sidetrack education. "Kids from low-income families are really at risk of falling behind academically. We know too many kids are dropping out of school and we know that between low-income and high- income families there's a huge achievement gap which is actually growing," Community Engagement Coordinator Carol Stephenson said.

The parents are trying to keep their kids out of that gap. "I'm on disability. It's a stretch each month. This place is such a blessing," Thompson said.

Last year, Sacred Heart Community Service gave away 2,500 backpacks and they did end up having to turn people away. So this year, they added 300 backpacks to their goal.

If you would like to donate, click here.