Last year the Coastside Community Backpack Drive raised enough money to give more than 400 local students bags of school supplies. This year organizers are again looking for donations and volunteers, and hoping to continue to help students on the Coastside attain the necessary school supplies they will need in the coming academic year.

“If you think about children going to the Cabrillo School District from families who really can’t afford to buy all the school supplies, giving them a set of supplies to start the year with a new backpack can really make a difference in their learning,” said Ken Myers, program organizer and outreach chair at the Holy Family Episcopal Church. “We can impact them by taking care of that particular problem. They have the stuff they need to learn and I think that makes a real difference.”

The drive has been supporting kindergarten through high school students in the Cabrillo district for 20 years, but the past two years have added importance to the Coastside Community Backpack Drive because of the continued economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To make sure that all of the kids in the community are ready for school and have everything they need to learn and succeed, Holy Family Episcopal Church is again partnering with Coastside Hope, Abundant Grace Coastside Worker, Community United Methodist Church, Coastside Lutheran Church, Coastside Jewish Community, the Migrant Student Program at the Cabrillo Unified School District, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic Church, the Rotary Club, Coastside Mothers Club, and other community groups to purchase school supplies and backpacks for local children whose families cannot afford them.

“The big thing is just how many different groups on the Coastside are involved and how many people donate,” Myers said. “That’s something I’m always impressed by. I’m humbled by just how many people really want to help.”

In recent years the group has also partnered with the Coastside Mothers Club and the Friends of the Library to secure new and lightly used books for students so they will have books to read outside of school as well.

“We are hoping to stimulate a love of reading, which would be a huge win for this population,” Myers said.

It costs between $30 and $40 to fill each bag, and all donations made to the drive go directly to buying school supplies and backpacks. Volunteers shop and fill the bags and then students can pick up the backpacks at the Half Moon Bay Library in early August, before the school year starts.

To make a tax-deductible donation, visit holyfamilyhmb.org and click on the School Backpacks button to donate via PayPal or you can donate via check by mailing your check to the Holy Family Episcopal Church. You may also make a donation of school supplies by contacting the church at 726-0506 or via email at backpacks@holyfamilyhmb.org.

They are also still looking for volunteers to help shop and pack backpacks. More information about volunteering can be found on the Holy Family Episcopal Church website.

“You can just tell by the smiles on the faces of the kids when they are picking their supplies up how much it means to them,” Myers said. “It really does make a difference.”

Emma Spaeth is a staff writer for the Half Moon Bay Review covering community, arts and sports. Emma grew up in Half Moon Bay before earning a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Oregon.

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