More than 20,000 children in the Bay Area identify themselves as homeless. In Santa Clara County alone, over 4,500 youth are living without shelter and basic comforts, making it nearly impossible for families to provide their kids with basic needs.
On May 9, nearly 400 volunteers for K to College arrived at the Santa Clara Convention center to assemble 10,000 school and dental hygiene kits that will be distributed locally. The non-profit organization – with sponsorships from Huawei Technologies, Target, Kaiser Permanente, Give Something Back Office Supplies and SummerHill Housing – purchased between $60 and $65 in school supplies for each kit, more than $500,000 in total, geared toward pre-K through fifth graders.
“This is all part of K to College’s public engagement strategy to make sure that not only we’re engaging the public and volunteers and to help provide basic materials needs assistance, hygiene products and so forth to the Bay Area’s 20,000-plus homeless kids, but also to just raise awareness of the problem itself,” said K to College Executive Director and founder Benito Delgado-Olson. “There are 100 things that homeless kids and families need to get better. Basic materials assistance is one of them, which is why we’re out here today.”
Delgado-Olson explained that this year, for the first time in the organization’s six-year history, it will be donating something to every school district in the state with homeless children enrolled. In addition, a new, optional deduction on state income tax forms has allowed K to College to obtain additional funding for its programs.
“The materials only are subsidized by the School Supplies for Homeless Children Fund, which is a fund that individual taxpayers can contribute to on their state income tax return,” said Delgado-Olson. “This is the first year that, because of their generosity, we’re able to donate something to every school district in the state. What makes it even better is that our partners like Huawei, Target, Kaiser and Give Something Back are matching what taxpayers have donated to make that dollar stretch even farther.”
Volunteers from the various partners and individuals who signed up on EventBrite worked in shifts to help K to College meet its lofty kit goal, with 14 assembly lines filled with volunteers quickly putting together and boxing up finished kits for distribution.
“I think we’re one of the longer corporate partners that they’ve had,” said Alison Jenkin, Huawei’s senior director of government affairs in California, who was one of the 25 Huawei employees volunteering at the event. “I think this is the fourth year that we’ve been doing it. I got introduced to them through a mutual acquaintance and we were looking for a non-profit to partner with that dealt with education and schools. After talking to Benito and understanding the program and how it started and how they involve not just students and needy children, homeless children, but they also work with the prison authority to get the bags assembled so they’re giving back that way. It’s just a full circle opportunity.”
In addition to Saturday’s kit assembly, a kickoff event was held on May 8 with Congressman Mike Honda receiving the K to College Founder Award and Supervisor Cindy Chavez receiving the Hero Award. KTVU News reporter Janine De La Vega was the event MC and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews and Assemblymember Nora Campos were featured speakers.
Visit www.ktocollege.org for more information.