Mariela Rios, 7, front, Diana Romero, 10, and Lesly Zapata, 11, sport new backpacks. Four Montecito churches have teamed up to provide 900 backpacks filled with school supplies to children of low-income families living in Peoples’ Self-Help Housing developments. (Peoples’ Self-Help Housing photo)

Four Montecito churches are working to provide 900 backpacks filled with school supplies for children who live in Peoples’ Self-Help Housing developments, from Carpinteria to Guadalupe.

Members of the “Community of Montecito Churches” — also known as M4 — are All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, El Montecito Presbyterian Church, Montecito Covenant Church and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.


Parishioners from four churches will gather July 19 to sort and stuff 900 backpacks. (Peoples’ Self-Help Housing photo)

From 10 a.m. to noon July 19, church volunteers will meet at El Montecito Presbyterian, 1455 East Valley Road, to sort and stuff the backpacks. Backpacks and school supplies were donated by the four churches and their congregants.

Peoples’ Self-Help Housing will deliver the backpacks the following week to children in the housing developments.

“The leadership and parishioners of the four churches are truly grateful for this opportunity to serve these local children of lower-income families, through Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, and to help guarantee that they have the tools necessary to thrive in their school environments,” said Don Johnson, spokesman for the Community of Montecito Churches.

Peoples’ Self-Help Housing was founded in 1970 to address the affordable housing needs on the Central Coast and its accompanying social problems.

Its mission is to create self-help home ownership opportunities, quality low-income rental housing, as well as youth education, health and community services to low-income families, seniors and special-needs groups living in PSHH facilities.

To date, Peoples’ has assisted 1,000 low-income households build their first home and developed 1,200 affordable rental units, serving 6,000 residents throughout Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.

For more information on how to donate to the M4 Backpack Project or to volunteer, call program coordinator Katie Falbo at 805.962.5152 x233, or visit

Annette Montoya is corporate communications manager for Peoples’ Self-Help Housing.