Fair trade for supplies

Share Our Selves is looking to fill 1,600 backpacks by Aug. 16 to give children from low-income families a fresh start in the new school year.

The Back to School project provides children with items like pens, paper, clothes and shoes.

"There's a good amount of people that regularly choose this program to help the children, from churches to seniors and clubs," said Vanessa Ontiveros, social services operation manager for SOS. "There are some that work on it throughout the year and know that this is an annual event and it's coming up."

This year, SOS is focusing more on collecting backpacks than on the supplies that fill them, Ontiveros said. That's because the Orange County Fairgrounds is helping SOS collect the supplies during the annual fair.

On We Care Wednesday fair-goers can bring school supplies worth $3 or more and get into the fair for free, Ontiveros said.

This is the second year in a row that the fairgrounds is helping SOS collect school items for back to school.

"We couldn't be more excited to know that we're able to meet our goal," Ontiveros said.

SOS, which started 40 years ago, hands out about 270 bags of groceries a day, assists 70 families with their rent and utilities, and provides medical care for those who are uninsured.

This year, SOS received the Public Law Center's Community Partner of the Year award. SOS is getting ready to launch its public law services where it will offer legal advice to those who need it from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays, Ontiveros said.

Nancy Chavez of Anaheim receives help from SOS.

When she found herself needing diapers for her 4-month-old, SOS provided her with a Target gift card, she said.

"Every once in a while, I don't have that money and I wouldn't have Pampers for my baby," she said.

Chavez, who only works part time, visited SOS on Tuesday to get food.

"They really helped me out," said the 20-year-old single mother.

Last year, SOS had a goal of collecting 1,400 backpacks, but ended up collecting 1,755. Each family gets two backpacks and each backpack has enough supplies to last throughout the school year, Ontiveros said.

Items needed



•Spiral notebooks





•Lunch bags



•Gift cards for clothing

How To Help

Donations may be dropped off at 1550 Superior Ave., Costa Mesa.

Volunteers are also needed to sort the donations and fill the bags.

Call Vanessa Ontiveros, social services operation manager for SOS, at (949) 270-2100 ext. 2150 or e-mail vontiveros@shareourselves.org.

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