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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 2:16 am | Overcast 54º


‘Tools for Schools’ Supplies Little Things That Make a Big Difference for Students

Donated back-to-school supplies help more than 350 low-income students get ready for class


Krystabel Perez knew which backpack she wanted.

Making a beeline to the center of the table outside Santa Barbara’s Presidio Springs Community Center, the 5 year old stood on her tippy-toes and grabbed a pink, aqua and red striped backpack.

“I’m excited to start school,” the soon-to-be kindergarten student at Canalino School in Carpinteria said with a grin while extracting notebooks, pens, pencils and other educational items from her new backpack.

Krystabel and her mother, Bianca, came to the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara’s community center on Laguna Street on Saturday morning to receive free school supplies. The donated items relieve some of the financial strain on Perez’s budget.

“The event helps tremendously because I’m a single mother,” Perez said. “Growing up, my parents struggled economically, and I remember seeing my mom working hard — it was difficult for her to provide some items.

“I’m grateful for this service for my daughter.”

Thank to donations from the Housing Authority, the nonprofit Second Story Associates and a local branch of Union Bank, more than 350 low-income students on the South Coast can start their school year with educational supplies.

Children in preschool through high school and their families formed a line in front of the community center to get pre-packaged kits.

In its fourth year, the “Tools for School” event has been assisting eligible families who can’t afford back-to-school supplies for their children. Families can expect to spend $622 on school supplies and fees for their elementary school-aged children, up 88 percent from 2007, according to data compiled by the Backpack Index, a measure created by Huntington National Bank and the nonprofit Communities in Schools.

“We want to break the cycle of poverty through education,” explained Rob Fredericks, executive director of the Housing Authority. “We want every youth to succeed, and we recognize the importance of education.”

The single-day happening is part of Second Story Associates and the Housing Authority’s “Growth, Readiness and Development” initiative, which works to encourage academic success and high school graduation among low-income youth through various programming and collaborations.

“We can’t build our way out of the affordable housing situation in Santa Barbara, but we can help families move up and out of the situation — starting with the youth and giving them the best tools and support throughout the school year,” Fredericks said.

“Our goal is to have every child from our residences graduate from high school and attend college.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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