The need in Sunnyvale continues to grow and Sunnyvale Community Services (SCS) continues to reach new heights in meeting that need. Just 45 minutes into its annual school supply distribution on Aug. 1, the nonprofit helped 68 homes in Sunnyvale, servicing 188 kids. The fast delivery was just the beginning of what would be a daylong effort.
This year, SCS plans to hand out school supplies and $100 Target gift cards to more than 2,000 children. The annual distribution day has changed since COVID but SCS Executive Director Marie Bernard believes the change is for the better.
“Three years ago, we had to stop giving out backpacks. It just wasn’t safe to do during the early days of COVID,” said Bernard. “We checked in with the clients and took a survey and we started giving gift cards instead…What the clients told us is that, overwhelmingly, they prefer the gift cards. So, we said, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘Well, my kid may not need a new backpack.’…It gives them the dignity of being able to shop for exactly what they want.”
SCS annually stretches the limit of what it can do for local students heading back to school. In 2019, the agency handed out 1,200 backpacks on its distribution day, with another 500 packed and ready for delivery later in the year. In 2020, COVID altered the way items were distributed, but SCS was still able to hand out nearly 2,000 backpacks with school supplies.
The ability to consistently conduct successful events like this one is a team effort that includes dedicated volunteers.
“I’ve just been sitting at home all summer. So, this was a great way for me to just like get out of the house and be able to give back to the community,” said Emily, a junior at St. Francis High School. “I know school supplies are really expensive. And it’s awesome that Sunnyvale is able to help out. People who need it.”
“I usually am here two or three days a week,” said Brian, a long-time volunteer. “Food Distribution on Wednesdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays, my wife and I usually work together, organize food for the rest of the week. It’s nice to do. Since we retired last year, it’s been a nice thing to fill our time and know that we’re helping the community.”
Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein says it makes his job easier to know that an agency like SCS is there for the people of Sunnyvale.
“This is a godsend. We really rely on them for those most in need. Whether or not it’s food delivery, we fund them for rental assistance for families. Whatever the needs are in the community, we really rely on them,” said Klein. “I’m happy that they’re here, that they’re that first line of help in our community. When there’s a fire or whenever there’s an issue, but especially for helping the students, helping the families with food and rent and utilities. This is why we love them so much and they’re just a fantastic organization.”
Sunnyvale Community Services raised more than $250,000 for the annual distribution day thanks in part to partners like Google, Intuitive, Dianne and Regis McKenna, Meta, Facebook, Service Now, Star One Credit Union and El Camino Health Care District.