Children experiencing homelessness have many daily struggles and worries, and they say that one of their biggest challenges is staying in school. One of the ways to make a difference is to help eliminate their worries of walking into class without a pencil or paper.
That’s why the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and San Diego County Credit Union® (SDCCU®) are partnering once again to collect new school supplies for these students.
More than 22,000 school-age children in San Diego County were identified as homeless during the 2015-16 school year. SDCOE and SDCCU – along with iHeartMedia partner stations Channel 93.3, JAM’N 95.7, and Star 94.1 – aim to collect thousands of much-needed pencils, pens, binders, crayons, backpacks, and more during the third annual SDCCU Stuff the Bus campaign. Carlsbad-based Vessel bags also has joined the effort, committing to a significant donation of new backpacks.
“We know how much this means to the schools and their families experiencing homelessness,” said Susie Terry, project specialist with SDCOE Homeless Education Services. “We had incredible success with last year’s drive, so we are very excited about this year’s effort. We look forward to ensuring that even more students have a solid start to their school year.”
Donation bins will be available through Aug. 4 in all San Diego County SDCCU branch locations, as well as at select SDCOE locations:
• SDCOE main campus, 6401 Linda Vista Road, San Diego
• SDCOE Homeless Education Services office, 3878 Old Town Ave., Suite 200, San Diego
• North County Regional Education Center, 255 Pico Ave., San Marcos
• South County Regional Education Center, 800 National City Blvd., National City
Throughout the month, SDCCU will have two buses touring the county to collect school supplies during stops at credit union branches, shopping centers, and partner agencies. The Stuff the Bus campaign also features a convenient one-click-donation option on Roonga.com.
“SDCCU is proud to once again partner with the San Diego County Office of Education and iHeartMedia to collect school supplies for children in need,” said Teresa Halleck, SDCCU president and CEO. “We ask the entire community to please join us in this effort and help set the stage for success in the upcoming school year. A small donation of supplies can make a big difference in the lives of these students who are without a stable home.”
Homelessness affects all of San Diego County, from urban city centers to suburban school districts. from the mountains to the border to the coast. Homelessness for school-age children can mean living in a shelter, sharing a residence with other families, living in a car or trailer, or sharing a room in an apartment with relatives.
Some districts support an especially high number of these vulnerable students, including Escondido Union, with 1,136; La Mesa-Spring Valley, 596; National, 991; San Diego Unified, 7,326; San Ysidro, 1,900; South Bay Union, 1,892; Sweetwater Union High, 958; and Vista Unified, 2,443.
“Having a new backpack at the beginning of a new year is symbolic of a new beginning starting fresh, and with a renewed goal to be successful in the year to come,” said Jenifer Mendel, who serves as the Grossmont Union High School District’s coordinator for child welfare and attendance, and the liaison for foster, homeless, and military families. “The families of the students who receive these donations struggle to have their money spread far enough to put a roof over their head for the night and food in their stomachs. There is just no extra for items like the luxury of a new backpack.”
This is SDCOE’s seventh straight year of leading a school supplies drive for the county’s most vulnerable students. The more than 250,000 school supplies collected last year were distributed with nearly 5,000 backpacks to 34 school districts and 15 charter schools in our county.
For a complete list of supplies needed, visit SDCOE’s Stuff the Bus webpage.