PALMDALE – Hundreds of Palmdale school children have brand-new backpacks and supplies for the first day of school, thanks to a backpack giveaway Friday at South Antelope Valley Emergency Services (SAVES).
“We’re providing, this year, 600 backpacks to our community,” said SAVES Coordinator Patricia Morales, adding that the backpacks are filled with school supplies according to age and grade level. “We tried very hard to make sure that we got them good quality backpacks that would make it through the year and school supplies to last them a long time,” Morales said.
Local families in need pre-registered in July for Friday’s backpack giveaway, according to Morales. To qualify, families had to show proof of income, address and number of people in the household.
“Based on those [criteria], they qualified for SAVES services, and this is one of the services that we provide,” Morales said, adding that the service is especially important for the community.
“It’s important because back to school should be an exciting time for children; they should be going back to school filled with hope that the next year will bring better things,” Morales said. “I think it is a good opportunity for the community to say to these families, no matter how their financial situations might be, ‘we care enough and we want your child to go [back to school] on the same level as everybody else.’”
The backpacks and supplies were purchased using community donations. More than half of the backpacks were donated by Life Church Antelope Valley in Palmdale.
“We donated over 300 backpacks,” said the church’s pastor, Abner Diaz. “It’s important because we see the need in our community, and we’re always looking to fill needs in our community.”
Diaz said the church has donated hundreds of backpacks to residents in need every year for the past three years.
This year, the congregation decided to join forces with SAVES, Diaz said. Members of the congregation also pitched in to distribute the backpacks at the SAVES office Friday morning.
“It brings joy to us to be able to serve our community,” Diaz said.
The SAVES program was started in 1983 to offer assistance to South Antelope Valley individuals and families who are experiencing a temporary emergency situation. For more information on this program, call 661-267-5191.