It was an early Christmas on Sunday at the Beach Flats Park in Santa Cruz for 100 eager students ready to hit the books this fall, however, it wasn’t Santa Claus that was handing out the presents.
Instead, it was Lynda and Kidz Backpack Project founder , along with her family and friends, who all showed up to the park with a pickup truck full of backpacks filled with school materials for those who are in dire need of a replacement.
Usually most kids and parents storm to their local Target or Wal-Mart stores to stock up on back-to-school items like pens, pencils, notebooks, erasers, rulers, calculators, and perhaps a new backpack for the upcoming school year.
As for some of their classmates, they aren’t as fortunate to start a new grade with fresh gear or the right tools to work with, and a majority of them can’t help but feel a little left out of the “cool crowd,” as most would call it.
However, all the effort and time the Hall family has dedicated, plus the hundreds of donations throughout the years, has made it possible for homeless and low-income children in Santa Cruz County to get what they need.
“I was one of those kids that always had second-hand stuff, had to go in the free lunch line and all that,” said Hall, a San Lorenzo Valley resident. “I just want these kids to have what everyone else has.”
This year Hall collected a total of 300 backpacks and on Monday the Walnut Avenue Woman’s Center in Santa Cruz will receive 50 of them along with a separate 25 for recently graduated pre-school kids.
The preschool made backpacks are special because they include crayons, a writing tablet, bigger pencils and a lunchbox for snacks.
Then on Wednesday, 60 backpacks will be delivered to the Rebele Family Shelter with the rest going to areas in Watsonville and a group in Sacramento that helps a set of children battling AIDS.
This year Hall got some help from some local businesses and it wasn’t as hectic for her when it was time to collect donations from folks.
“I think there has just been a lot more publicity and a lot more awareness,” Hall said. “We started with two (kids) nine years ago. True
Olive Connection in Santa Cruz and Ivy’s Porch in Scotts Valley agreed to
be drop-off points so it made it easier for people.”
Although this was the ninth year that she’s put together this marvelous fundraiser, it was Hall’s first encounter with the kids who are part of the project.
“This is the first time we’ve actually been able to see the children get a backpack,” she said. “It’s awesome and just makes it all worth it.”