Chevall Pryce, Staff writer
Aug. 4, 2020Updated: Aug. 6, 2020 10:45 a.m.
Even though many of them may be staying home and taking their classes virtually this fall semester, CFISD students are still in need of school supplies. Clients with Cy-Fair Helping Hands are getting a jump start on collecting those supplies, first come first serve, on August 26 and August 29.
The annual Backpacks and School Supplies Campaign hosted by nonprofit Cy-Fair Helping Hands, which helps homeless and low-income families with various needs, will provide backpacks full of supplies for all grades through a drive-thru distribution. Clients who have visited CFHH since July are eligible to receive the supplies.
CFHH is accepting donations of school supplies for the campaign through Aug. 18.
Patricia Hudson, executive director of community outreach for CFHH, said the event gave out more than 1,000 backpacks during the 2019 event. Although the nonprofit has received fewer donations than in previous years due to COVID-19 difficulties, the event is still expecting to provide more than 1,000 this year.
“Thankfully the school district put off the start of school to Sept. 8 so that gives us a little more time to generate stuff, get some capital, do some ordering and get whatever we need,” she said. “I’m hearing from (clients) I haven’t heard from since March and they want school supplies now. We can’t do that. It’s too much.”
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Clients will also need to provide proof their child is a CFISD student, as the event is specific to the school district this year rather than open to the public. CFHH is also holding a separate food distribution at the same time, according to Hudson.
CFHH is also providing clear backpacks for high school and middle school students, who are required to have them by CFISD. As low-income households prepare to get their students back to school, other worries, like unemployment and bills, are on parents’ minds.
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Hudson said CFHH wants to take some of that pressure away, whether students are going to school virtually or in-person. She said many low-income families do not have the option to have their child take virtual classes due to the need to work.
“Some of the parents can’t teach their kids,” Hudson said. “That’s not in their realm, they don’t have the capability. Some of them only speak their own language. The big thing, along with this, is the poverty level. If before they were struggling to put on food on the table, now with either the husband not working or both people out of work, we’ve got a lot of new clients.”
Many of the new clients are Vietnamese, Hudson said, and now CFHH is searching for bilingual volunteers who would be able to help the nonprofit communicate with clients who do not know English. CFHH is also in need of volunteers as many local teachers who volunteer with CFHH are preparing to go back to work.
“We have only had a minimal level of Vietnamese speakers prior to this and they were bilingual,” Hudson said. “Now a lot of the people coming through our food distribution line are Vietnamese. It’s really hard. We have to register them but it’s hard to communicate.”
Although COVID-19 has disrupted the year for the nonprofit in terms of how much food and supplies they have to give to a growing client base, CFHH is happy to help students feel a little better about going back to school. As a former special education and ESL teacher, Hudson said the smallest thing can help students excel.
“I know how important it is for these kids to have something in their hands new on the first day of school, something that gives them a little of excitement and some enthusiasm, some motivation” she said.
The Backpack and School Supply Campaign distribution events are scheduled for August 26 and August 29 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event, located at 7520 Cherry Park Dr. Ste. B, Houston, is first come, first serve and will run until supplies are gone.
CFHH is requesting that people drop off items for the Backpack and School Supply Campaign by Aug. 18. CFHH is asking for donations of school supplies, like pencils, markers, and Elmer’s glue sticks, for the event. CFHH is also in need of food donations for their ongoing food distribution event.
For more information, such as how to volunteer and donate supplies, visit www.cyfairhelpinghands.org/