SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – More than five hundred volunteers packed into the Scottish Rite Events Center today to prepare school supply kits and dental hygiene kits for 10,000 homeless kids throughout San Diego County and Southern California. The event was coordinated by the Oakland-based nonprofit organization K to College, who planned the event to both help local homeless kids and to draw attention to the need for basic material needs assistance for the more than 22,000 homeless kids attending San Diego public schools and the nearly 300,000 homeless kids throughout the state.
Many local leaders volunteered at the event, including several members of the Office of Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins. Speaker Atkins said of the event, “Young people facing poverty and homelessness are dealing with challenges that make it harder for them to concentrate in class and obtain a good education. K to College helps make their lives easier by giving them simple items like paper, pencils, and art supplies that other students might take for granted. I am thrilled to join the volunteers assembling these kits so that hundreds of San Diego children will have access to the materials they need to help them succeed in school.”
K to College Founder & Executive Director Benito Delgado-Olson said that the nonprofit received an overwhelming response from the San Diego community in support of the volunteer event, but he emphasized that K to College and similar charitable efforts are still far from being able to fully address the basic material needs of California’s homeless children & youth. “San Diego’s response in terms of volunteerism is outstanding and their hard work and sweat will benefit 10,000 homeless kids throughout the region,” said Delgado-Olson. “But it’s important to remember that there are still several tens of thousands of homeless kids across our state that don’t have floss, a decent pair of shoes or a backpack.”
Major sponsors of today’s event included Target, Huawei Technologies, WD-40, Hitachi and Give Something Back Office Supplies. The supplies were also in part funded by the School Supplies for Homeless Children Fund, which receives funds through donations on individuals’ personal state income returns. The Fund was created by legislation in 2012 and generates a little more than $325,000 annually. K to College says this is significant, as it along with a corporate match will enable the program to donate something to every county in the state, but notes that with 297,617 homeless students identified in public schools last year, there is still a large gap to be closed.
Currently, K to College and the California State PTA have cosponsored Senate Bill 636, which is authored by State Senator Carol Liu (Los Angeles) and more than a dozen coauthors, including local Assemblymember Shirley Weber as the principal coauthor. The bill articulates a state policy enabling social services to partner with nonprofits to distribute basic materials through school district social workers and also requires matching private contributions.
On Saturday evening, K to College kicked off the weekend volunteer event by gathering numerous state and local leaders with the backdrop of more than 70 pallets of school supplies and more than a dozen 40-foot long assembly lines. Guests included Speaker Atkins, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, San Diego County Office of Education Superintendent Randolph Ward, and San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten.