Large number of youth receive backpacks

Burton School District’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a community outreach group for grandparents, foster parents or family members who take care of family siblings, grandchildren or foster children, hosted it’s fourth backpack giveaway Friday at Jim Maples Academy in the morning.

Scores of families and children came to the fair and received backpacks, supplies, and all kinds of information and fun things from the resource tables sponsored by community outreach groups, the Porterville Library, and a Family Health Care Network and other  health care providers, the Galaxy Theater, the Porterville Police Department and other groups.

Monique Patino, a mother of four children in fifth grade, fourth grade and second grade said, “This is a great event they have for the children. Backpacks are expensive, so when you have a lot of kids this really helps out.”

Burton School District board member Daniel Figueroa said the resource fair was a blessing for many families, and he praised all of the many volunteers, PTA members, the members of G.R.G. and all involved for their hard work and dedication to the children of the community. He thanked everyone for their donations of school supplies and all their efforts.

The giveaway is part of the group’s Resource Fair, which will provide information from various community resources, as well as offer craft activities, and a raffle. There were refreshments of fresh fruit, water, and hot dogs were prepared by the JMA PTA.

Eighthy families and more had already registered according to founder Denise Carson, and they received  free backpacks full of grade appropriate supplies for each child. 

Denise Carson and her husband, Howard, started G.R.G. when they were 50, and raising James, their grandson, who’s now 14 and in high school at Summit Charter Collegiate Academy. Howard coaches basketball at SCCA and SCIA. During the morning Howard was attentively talking to children and finding out which grade they were in, so they would get the appropriate backpack and school items for their needs. Denise said he really enjoys helping with the giveaway and resource fair. 


    Denise’s mother, Effie Coulter, who has the most wonderful smile, helped with signing in families to the resource fair, and helped keep track of who had registered with G.R.G. 



    Donna Ware of the PTA said the backpack giveaway was great because it helps people who really need it. New backpacks are expensive, especially with all the school supplies. “It can easily run into $100 per child,” she said. Her daughter Kira, 9, is a JMA student.


    The Gudino children, Jasmine,13, Samantha, 10, and Juan, all received new backpacks with school supplies and were happy.  Their mother, Ivette Gudino said, “I think this is a really good resource for families, and it’s wonderful that there are so many volunteers from the community helping with information as well as school supplies and backpacks.”

   G.R.G. Volunteer Helen Parker remarked the line for the backpack give away was out the door and all the way into the next parking lot it was so popular. “It’s the perfect event to come and get school things for children who are in need,” she said. The resource fair was packed during the morning, with kids getting involved in the activities, dancing, and even meeting special guest Mickey Mouse who dropped by for a quick visit.

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