OCDE staff, along with local community members, gathered Wednesday to keep a back-to-school tradition alive.
While COVID-19 may have altered traditional plans, the annual Back-to-School supply event hosted by OCDE’s Alternative Education program — known as ACCESS — was modified into a drive-through giveaway to benefit Orange County families in need.
The socially-distanced event served 45 families from ACCESS schools throughout the county. In addition, OCDE’s hospitality committee, or HOCO, organized a donation drive to provide an array of school supply backpacks filled with everything from notebooks and crayons to blue light blocking glasses.
Bags of fresh produce, milk and eggs, along with 27-pound boxes containing dry and canned goods, were also given to each family courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. Adding a festive seasonal touch, Saddleback Church volunteers gave away pumpkins grown on their local farm, as well as ice cream treats for the students.
“It’s great to see our students’ faces in person after so many months of distance learning,” said Skyview School teacher Barbara Blasco. “Receiving brand new backpacks and school supplies will help get them excited about returning to school later this month.”
The collaborative event involved several local churches and community organizations. Volunteers from Trinity Church in Orange assisted ACCESS school staff with distributing the backpacks and food. PPE equipment, including hand sanitizer and masks, was provided by Eastside Church in Anaheim, and additional donations were supplied by First Presbyterian Church of Orange County in Westminster and Project Giving Light in Newport Beach.
“The pandemic has placed a huge burden on families who are already dealing with financial hardship,” said Wendy Rogan, ACCESS Title I program specialist.
“With this school supply give-away, we wanted to let our students and families know we care about them, miss them, and look forward to seeing them back at school,” Rogan said.