On the morning of Aug. 13 at Franklin Square Mall, children of low-income families prepared for the new school year by picking up new backpacks and school supplies and getting haircuts at Bay Area Pay It Forward’s 4th Annual Backpack Drive. Evangelina Trujeque, Santa Clara resident and lead event organizer, shared the story behind how Bay Area Pay It Forward was started.
“This happened in 2014: The way the backpack drive initiated was that my eldest son—who’s in college now—asked that when we went back to school shopping, if we could pick up a backpack for his friend,” Trujeque said. “His friend’s family didn’t have a lot of money and he didn’t have a book bag. I didn’t find information about a backpack drive in Santa Clara. So I decided to do my own backpack drive for kids like my son’s friend. I reached out to friends and family to see if we could get some help. Our friends and family were all on board to get donations and help.”
This year, Trujeque prepared to have backpacks ready for about 200 children. She reached out to a number of organizations to ask for help in spreading the word about this event to low-income families.
The event was made possible by the help of generous donors. According to Trujeque, the Santa Clara based Robertson Machine donated a lot of school supplies. Santa Clara resident Pat Gerard, with her local RV group, donated 24 backpacks.
“This year, we worked with a local baseball traveling team called Living Legends Baseball Club that is based out of Santa Clara,” Trujeque said. “They saw our flyer on Facebook and they wanted to help out our organization. Members of Living Legends dropped off 50 backpacks with [school] supplies. That was a tremendous help.”
A number of volunteers—including Trujeque’s sons—helped out. In addition, San Jose-based face painters Angie Escobedo-Villegas (from Mama Bear Face Painting & Creations) and Roxxi Cisneros (from Beautiful Mynd Creationz) applied colorful designs to children’s faces.
Also, inside Sam & Roy’s University Barber Shop around the corner (at 977 Monroe St.), were five barbers volunteering their time to give complimentary haircuts to children before their first day of school.
“This is my third year volunteering for Bay Area Pay It Forward,” said Dave Padilla, who normally works out of Mission City Barber. “I volunteer because it’s the right thing to do. I’m blessed to be in a position where I’m able to do this. I think all five of us barbers volunteering today feel this way.”
The other barbers volunteering with Padilla were Tina La (owner of Sam & Roy’s University Barber Shop), Kimberly Pham (from Sam & Roy’s), Dang Nguyen (from Supercuts in Santa Clara) and Alex Suez (from Hacienda Barber Shop in San Jose).
Visit www.facebook.com/bayareapayitforward for more information about Bay Area Pay It Forward.