The 2019-20 school year is almost here, so the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara helped dozens of low-income families get prepared during its Tools for School event on Saturday morning.
Put on by the housing authority and its nonprofit affiliate 2nd Story Associates, the event had a two-hour giveaway during which the families received free school supplies such as backpacks, notebooks, folders, and pencils. The families also were connected with services to help ensure their kids achieve success in school.
As families who reside in housing authority facilities arrived at its Presidio Springs location on Laguna Street, they circled through a procession of booths providing information on such services as tutoring through Alan Hancock College’s MESA program, and college prep through SBCC Promise and the California Student Opportunity and Access Program. The kids also were offered free dental and eye exams.
After visiting each of the tables, the families made their way into the Presidio Springs community room to receive new backpacks and school supplies.
Children who have not started kindergarten also got to choose a book through the Growth, Readiness and Development program. Housing authority executive director and CEO Rob Fredericks told the News-Press this is meant to get the kids ahead on reading prior to starting school.
“We’re giving away books for the young kids even though they haven’t started school yet, so they can begin looking at books and reading, building their literacy at an early age,” he said.
Many families who showed up for Saturday’s event were returning from previous years. Several parents said Tools for School is extremely helpful to their families.
Santa Barbara resident Diana Munoz, who has five kids attending San Marcos High School and El Camino Elementary School, said the event was of great financial assistance to her.
“When school supplies come, it’s a great help because if I did it on my own I’d spend a couple hundred dollars for each kid. So it’s very, very helpful, especially with the backpacks,” she said.
The event also made here aware of SBCC Promise and the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, which provides her high schooler with college applications and free money for school.
“I didn’t even know that was possible,” she said of the services.
Financial relief was also a major reason for Goleta resident Christina Covarrubias making a return visit this year. A preschool teacher and single mother of two sons who go to Dos Pueblos High School and Goleta Valley Junior High School, Ms. Covarrubias said the free school supplies significantly help reduce her boys’ school costs, which includes football gear for her older son.
“For someone who doesn’t have extra month to month, there isn’t a budget for that so this is a huge help,” she said.
Goleta resident Andrea Mendoza, a single mother of four boys in school, said Tools For School made for a convenient one-stop shop where she could complete several errands before the school year began. While at Presidio Springs, Ms Mendoza scheduled two eye exams, got one of her boy’s teeth checked, and picked up backpacks. She was particularly happy that the housing authority gave out out backpacks her sons would actually like.
“The selection of backpacks is actually really cool because it’s actually things that my boys will use,” she said.