On Aug. 4, Sunnyvale Community Services (SCS) hosted “Ready To Learn,” an all-day event held at its Kern Avenue location. It was the first day staffers at the Sunnyvale-based nonprofit began giving away essential school supplies and gift cards to underserved students.
“We handed out over 1,300 school supply kits,” said Vinney Arora, SCS’s Interim Development Director. “Each school supply kit comes with a $100 gift card to Target so kids could use it to pick out other things they want, including backpacks and shoes. By the end of this month, we would’ve handed out 2,500 school supply kits and gift cards.
“30% of the kids in this country do not have enough clothing or shoes for school,” Arora continued. “By hosting this event, we’re just saying, ‘We see you. We care and our whole Sunnyvale community wants to support our neighbors in need.’”
Arora recalled a couple of grateful recipients of the school supply kits, including a child who hasn’t worn new shoes in a year and a single parent recently laid off from a janitorial job at a tech company.
“People who attended and got access to this program had to meet eligibility requirements and be active in SCS programs, such as case management, tenant assistance and food distribution,” Arora said. “We serve residents of Alviso, a part of the San Jose community, as well as Sunnyvale residents.”
Arora estimated that SCS purchased roughly 90% of the items being given away at the “Ready to Learn” event.
“We had to raise the funds to buy these items,” he said. “We bought many items from Target. We also had several generous sponsors including Google, LinkedIn and local community leaders, such as Dianne and Regis McKenna and Mary Bradley and Terry Blumenthal.”
Arora talked about a couple of the many programs SCS organizes to further enrich the lives of children.
“We offer free diapers to families in need year-round,” Arora said. “Local kids who go to public school often get a free or reduced lunch during the school year. This benefit goes away during the summer for many kids. So SCS steps in to make sure families can get access to nutritious food, such as eggs and fresh produce, during summer months.”
“Right now, we are about $25,000 short to make sure every eligible family gets access to a school supply kit with a gift card,” Arora said. “Our funding has also gone down for produce and diapers. We’re reaching out to our local Sunnyvale community to show them the impact they can make. Donors can visit www.svcommunityservices.org.”
Having grown up in Silicon Valley, Arora explained his motivation behind his efforts to support local families.
“When I was a kid, I was supported by nonprofits,” he said. “I got free backpacks, school supplies and nutritional services. I’m reinvesting in supporting families just like mine.”