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Helping Hands Prepare Students for Success

Several backpack and school supplies drives help students prepare for a successful school year.

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Back to school planning got a lot less stressful recently for many low-income families, thanks to a number of collaborative, community-wide efforts to give students across Southern California free backpacks and school supplies.

Research indicates that child poverty rates in California remain high, despite a healthier economy. According to a report from the Public Policy Institute of California, Los Angeles County ranks third in the state for child poverty rates, with 29.9% of children living in or near poverty. As a result, there are children throughout Southern California who start the school year without the supplies they need to be successful in their studies. The collection drives benefit low-income families in underserved areas, and provide families with much needed materials to start school. 

Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians, concerned community Members, and civic leaders joined forces this summer to host collection drives for much needed school items including pencils, pens, notebooks, and backpacks to give students a good start and the confidence they need for the school year.

Here are just a few of the back to school collection drives and giveaway events that were hosted recently by Kaiser Permanente and our community partners:

El Nido Family Centers

Over 400 students living in the San Fernando Valley received a free backpack and pencil box during a giveaway event at the Pacoima Community Center hosted by Kaiser Permanente and the El Nido Family Centers. Big smiles were aplenty as local families enjoyed arts and crafts, sports, free books, and health education consultations with Kaiser Permanente experts. To everyone’s surprise, Kaiser Permanente’s Panorama City Medical Center also announced that a new $10,000 grant that will be awarded to El Nido later this year.

The backpacks and school supplies were donated by Kaiser Permanente employees and physicians, and were assembled the week prior by a team of Kaiser Permanente volunteers from the Southern California regional offices in Pasadena, California.

Guided by the philosophy that “a child cannot grow up twice,” El Nido is a safe haven for at-risk populations in Los Angeles, providing critical services to over 10,000 children, youth and family members each year in some of the County’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. El Nido’s mission is to empower families to break the cycle of poverty, child abuse, violence, academic failure, and teen pregnancy through outstanding educational, youth development, health and therapeutic services. Click here to learn more.  

Baldwin Park and West Covina Unified School Districts

Kaiser Permanente’s Baldwin Park Medical Center teamed up with the Baldwin Park and West Covina Unified School Districts to collect backpacks and school supplies for students and families. Employees and physicians from across the Medical Center service area donated school supplies and more than 950 backpacks during a three-week collection drive held this summer. A special thank you was issued to emergency department physicians John Nguyen, M.D. and his family for donating 105 backpacks, and Dennis Espitia, MD, for donating 50 backpacks.

Other employees also volunteered to roll up their sleeves to sort and assemble the backpacks and supplies for distribution. Nearly 40 departments throughout San Gabriel Valley facilities took part in the campaign.

“We truly value the Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park backpack donation community partnership made possible by employees and physicians,” said Baldwin Park Unified School District Superintendent Paul Sevillano. “The gratitude expressed by our students and parents for the donations was simply amazing and a testament to our enduring partnership.”

This is the seventh year that the medical center partners with the Baldwin Park Unified School District for this campaign, and the third year of partnership with the West Covina School District.

Children’s Institute, Inc. Backpack Giveaway

The Children’s Institute, Inc. presented its 4th Annual Watts Back2School Giveaway on August 1, at the Ted Watkins Park, located across the street from Kaiser Permanente’s Watts Counseling and Learning Center. The campaign will help more than 6,000 children in and around the Watts community prepare for a successful school year ahead.

During the event, students from Early Head Start through 12th grade received a backpack filled with school supplies, as well as a pair of shoes, fresh produce and healthy snacks.

To promote physical activity, Kaiser Permanente’s Watts Counseling and Learning Center also organized a fitness challenge where participants logged in close to 20 miles of walking, jogging, or running around the park.

For more information about these programs, or to volunteer, go to: http://community.kp.org/be-involved

To learn more about similar volunteer efforts, visit: