SUNNYVALE (KPIX 5) — While most kids will be learning remotely when they go back to school, some children in need are still lacking essential supplies.

On Monday at Sunnyvale Community Services, things were especially busy this year. Thanks to the pandemic, income equality has gone from bad to worse.

When the facility opened up Monday morning at 8 a.m., there was already a line of cars waiting to receive donated backpacks filled with school supplies.

“Because people suddenly lost their livelihoods, many of the people that have been coming here have been working two jobs, three jobs each,” said Marie Bernard with Sunnyvale Community Services. “They lost all of their jobs. So these are the people hard working in our community.”

Each child receives a $45 dollar Target gift card, a backpack and a box of school supplies.

To maintain social distancing, families drove up, popped open the trunk and volunteers dropped the items inside.

“We’re very excited because — whether or not school is going to be open — the children want to and need to be ready to learn,” said Barnard. “So these backpacks will give them the school supplies that they will use, whether or not they are sheltering in place or going to school.”

Last year, the agency handed out 1,600 backpacks. But after the lockdown, that number this year jumped up to 2,000.

Barnard called on those who are not facing similar economic hardship to lend a hand with her agency’s efforts.

“Those folks don’t have the choice to be able to shelter-in-place and still have income,” said Barnard. “So think compassionately, do what you can, reach out to your local community because this is a global pandemic but it lands in your own backyard.”

Each package of school supplies is worth about $100 per child. For recipient Alicia Castañeda, it’s one less worry on her mind.

When asked what the backpack means to her and herr family, Castañeda said,
“It means a lot. We can do a lot with it. It helps us save money.”

Student Briana Martinez, who said she plans to share whatever supplies she has with her classmates, was thankful for the help her family was getting.

“I really appreciate it, because no one else could help us. And people are here working really early in the morning to help all us families out,” said Martinez.

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