FAIRFIELD — Hundreds of children got a back-to-school boost Saturday as community groups set up shop at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church for an annual backpack giveaway.
St. Mark’s for the past seven years has hosted its Back-to-School Day with in excess of 1,200 families in need coming to get a free backpack. The backpack giveaway has taken place for 14 years, according to Zoila Perez-Sanchez, coordinator at Healthy Start Family Resource Center in Fairfield.
“This event wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of the whole community,” Perez-Sanchez said.
Organizations such as the Fairfield Police Officers Association, Fairfield-Suisun School District, Walgreens and many others also donated entertainment and free food. Travis Air Force Base, the Matt Garcia Youth Center and individual donors teamed up with St. Mark’s to buy more than 1,200 new backpacks.
The backpack giveaway was just a portion of Saturday’s activities.
Nonprofits like The Matt Garcia Foundation, Child Start Inc. and Fun on the Run provided free games, face painting, popcorn and ice drinks, and more while providing the community with information on their services.
“Parents and their children showed up to the event as early as 7 a.m.,” Perez-Sanchez said. “We want this to be a community event. So it’s a place to get out and met your neighbors.”
A line that wrapped around the building and into the parking lot attested to the importance of this event for families who are in need.
“If we run out of backpacks, we will take down the names of the people and start calling them on Monday. We will get more backpacks and make sure they have them . . .,” Perez-Sanchez said. “Members of the school board are helping paint faces. The kids love to see their principal outside of the school.”
School began this week in the Fairfield-Suisun School District. It begins next week in the Travis School District.
Sara Mora brought her son Juan, who is going into second grade. She said through a translator that this was the second year in a row that they had come to St. Mark’s. Her son happily unpacked his backpack, which was filled with paper, pens, pencils, scissors and other goodies.
“We tailor the backpacks to the age-appropriate materials,” said Liz Teresi, associate director of student accountability and support for Fairfield-Suisun School District.
For Jairo Hermonsillo, 12, of Fairfield, this has become an annual event that he really looks forward to attending.
“We get supplies like pencils and pens, rulers. If you walk around here, they give you all kinds of free stuff,” he said.
“We know that this population needs this and being here at St. Mark’s is really at the heart of that community,” Perez-Sanchez said.
Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.