Children picked up free backpacks at Samaritan House in San Mateo.
With school back in session for many children along the Peninsula, the Samaritan House is helping needy elementary and middle school students start the year off right with the loads of school supplies.
The San Mateo-based nonprofit held its second backpack giveaway of the summer and its first ever official event for the distribution of the backpacks for its clients Friday, Aug. 22. Excited parents and children rifled through piles of the backpacks to pick out particular colors or styles they liked.
This year the nonprofit collected about 500 backpacks, stuffed with school supplies like notebooks, folders, highlighters, pencils, rulers and other items.
“We want every kid to start the year as ready and as special as any other kid,” said CEO Bart Charlow. “They all start with some bright new backpacks and school supplies. We want every child to start the year with dignity.”
The two largest donors to the drive were Central Peninsula Church’s Foster City High School Ministry, who donated nearly 200 backpacks, and Western Hills Church, who donated nearly 150 backpacks. More than 20 volunteers, along with staff members, participated in the two distributions.
“We didn’t realize we were going to get so many backpacks,” said Annual Giving Manager Jessica Mitchell.
This year, the group is giving out double the number of backpacks it gave out last year. Mitchell attributes this to being more visible in the recent past on social media and through word of mouth.
“This year we’ve been able to give out backpacks to everyone who wanted one,” said Volunteer Coordinator Reyna Sandoval who headed up the giveaway program. “It’s a good way to start off the year in style.”
If someone needs a backpack, but is not yet a client, he or she can contact the client services office to sign up. There are extra backpacks available to give to clients who were unable to make the distributions on Aug. 8 and Aug. 22.
Samaritan House also offers Kids Closet which provides new and gently used clothing to over 150 families every month, including some of those children gearing up for the school year.
For more information, go to samaritanhousesanmateo.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105