VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - Hundreds of families and foster kids attended the 6th Annual Back to School Bash in Newbury Park on Saturday as a safe and fun way to go shopping for the upcoming school year.
The drive-thru bash let each child choose their own pre-filled backpack out of a lineup of hundreds as well as a pair of new shoes, from popular brands like Adidas and Nike, and other fun essentials.
Volunteers dressed up as princesses, superheroes and cheerleaders to entertain the kids as they chose their academic gifts.
A Mister Softee ice cream truck waited at the end of the lineup to round out the experience for everyone.
A total of over 700 families with 500 Ventura County children in out of foster care registered for the event which was held in the nonprofit James Storehouse driveway from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The annual Back to School Bash was organized by James Storehouse and Homes with Heart Ventura County, a program that provides support and resources to families of foster children and kids that are still transitioning between homes. Homes with Heart is also part of The County of Ventura Human Services Agency, Children and Family Services.
“This is our sixth year hosting this event and since COVID-19 everything has changed however, children still have back to school needs, whether at home or in school, and the new shoes and backpacks, school supplies, and additional basics are a necessity," said Jaci Johnson, Program Coordinator III of Recruitment at County of Ventura, Human Services Agency.
"Showing the children, youth and families that we care is one of the most important facets of this annual drive and we think this is the most meaningful piece," said Stacy DeWitt, Executive Director at James Storehouse. "We know the children are in need and with the help of over 250 volunteers who collected, donated and will work all day on Saturday we are able to show how much we care.”
All of the school supplies and essential items were donated to Homes with Heart including real estate firms, churches, Boy and Girl Scouts and local community members. Over $100,000 in donations were collected.
James Storehouse provided the stations and canopies, all packed with supplies on display for elementary, middle, and high school youth alike. Over 100 volunteers showed up to facilitate the handouts.
COVID-19 precautions were in place to help protect the students and their families. Volunteers collected and distributed the items while wearing masks and gloves. Hand sanitizer was also readily available for anyone in need.
For more information on Homes with Heart VC, you can visit their website at homeswithheartvc.org.