MILPITAS (CBS 5) — A Milpitas non-profit organization is helping low-income children start the school year with the necessary tools they need to succeed.

The Family Giving Tree has collected 135-thousand backpacks and school supplies for children for over 17 years.

“Without the supplies that these kids get they will start off school extremely disadvantaged and it really impedes their learning,” said David Bratton-Kearns, chief operating officer.

Donors wishing to help can pick up wish cards at various locations with a list of recommended items and go shopping. In August, the backpacks are filled with items such as pencils, paper, rulers and more are distributed to the schools.

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“Having to pay rent, do the bills and him only working is hard,” said Evelyn Hernandez, a mother of four. “I think it’s important for kids to feel confident. They don’t need to worry about oh my god I don’t have a backpack.”

The Family Giving Tree’s goal for 2012 is to collect at least fifteen thousand backpacks for students. They plan to increase that goal every year

“They have a big heart, they make it easier,” Hernandez said. “They have no idea how much easier they make it for a lot of parents struggling.”

About 325-thousand children are eligible for the Federal Free & Reduced Price Meal Program and Family Giving Tree helps 5-percent of that need.

To learn more about the Family Giving Tree, visit their website.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Michelle Griego