Students Win With Backpack Giveaways
By Dianne Anderson
Parents everywhere this week are probably thinking the same thing – what happened to all the money?
Thousands of smartly dressed local kids are trekking back to school, and coming out of pocket for backpacks is at least one less thing parents have to worry about.
Amanda Vann, SMAART program coordinator with Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy, said they are offering two big backpack giveaways this year.
On Saturday, August 3rd, the Academy is hosting a 2,000 backpack giveaway at two locations, along with free haircuts for youth.
Both events will be held from 11:00 am – 3:00 p.m. One is at Charlotte N. Werner Elementary School, 1050 W Rialto Ave in Rialto. The other will be held at Perris Hill Park, located at 1135 E Highland Ave, San Bernardino. Each location is giving 1,000 backpacks
Many city and county vendors will be at the locations to help families with a variety of services.
Their program will serve the community with school supplies and backpacks stuffed full of supplies based on grade level and to high schoolers, who will get research notebooks, and a calculator.
“They’ll be providing resources on everything from low-income housing to free cell phones and healthcare, an array community resources will be provided,” she said. “It’s first come, first serve. The kids must be present to receive a backpack, there is no pre-registration.”
Myracle Stevenson, 28, said she and her friend grew up in the area, and are well aware of how hard it is for families to just provide food and clothes on a consistent basis. They got started simply with the desire to help the local community.
She and her partner, Kiara Chambers, both entrepreneurs, teamed up for their first-time event, which she said has gained good local support from partners. She expects to distribute over 100 backpacks.
“The goal this year was to just make it happen, and sponsor the kids in our neighborhood,” she said.
On August 4, the community is also invited out on a “first come, first serve” giveaway for 6th through 12th grader backpacks, distributed school supplies, drawings and prizes, free haircuts and more. The event will be held at E Street Skate Park from 1:00-5:00 p.m.
“We just kind of put our heads together and decided we’re going to serve at home first, in lower-income communities that we’re familiar with, and branch off and see where it takes us,” she said.
She is starting out small, but hopes to continue bringing resources to the community. They will have a DJ, a few barbers on site, and help from different business owners. One nonprofit is bringing food, another is offering pencils and paper. Local churches will have clothes.
“I always wanted to give back to the kids to have more options than maybe I had. That’s where my heart is at,” she said.
Shari Hunke, spokesperson for the Children’s Fund, said donations are still pouring in, and she expects another large shipment this week.
“Our goal is 3,000 and we’re going to keep collecting until we reach 3,000,” she said. “The Children’s Fund knows that our community families sometimes struggle just to meet basic necessities when school time comes.”
Buying backpacks can be a great financial burden for families, that often have more than one student. Backpacks and supplies are important for student success, she said.
Students that receive backpacks are usually under other types of case management, such as clothing, budgeting and financial help. Backpacks are just one of the several resources the Children’s Fund provides.
The Children’s Fund doesn’t distribute directly to the community, but she said they provide the backpacks to case managers and social workers, along with 50 nonprofit partners that pass on contributions to local students.
Backpacks are filled to the zipper with goodies and school supplies, pencils and paper.
“If you were to purchase all of those supplies from Amazon, it adds up to $95,” she said. You don’t think it adds up, but calculate everything kids need for success in a school year, it’s quite significant.”
For more information on YVYLA, contact Amanda@yvyla-ie.org