Backpacks and bread-breaking

One of the few saving graces of going back to school for some kids is getting brand-new supplies, so one local organization helped low-income parents send their children back to school right.

Project Self Sufficiency hosted a back to school event Monday at the Edison Community Center, where families ate chicken and potato salad before they lined up to get personalized backpacks stuffed with new school supplies.

"I think it's important that children have nice and new things to help them have a positive image of going back to school," said Brigette Beisner, the Project Self Sufficiency program coordinator.

The Huntington Beach program helps low-income, single parents working toward an educational or career goal become economically independent, Beisner said. The participants come from all walks of life and it hasn't always been easy for some, she said.

"We have some folks that have really had a tough road," she said.

The program helps residents through scholarships, housing subsidies and child-care and transportation assistance.

Beisner said all parents are "dedicated not only to their families, but [also] to their education so they can become economically sufficient. This is not a hand out, but a hand up."

The event gave the Project Self Sufficiency board members a chance to get to know the new members while "breaking bread," Beisner said.

The program coordinated with the Huntington Beach First Christian Church to provide each child with a personalized backpack to help them be prepared to go back to school. Church members volunteered to fill them with school supplies the child has requested, or other items like clothing or gift cards, Beisner said.

They gave out about 60 backpacks for the school-age children, said Janeen Laudenback, superintendent of recreation, human and cultural services. This year, the organization was also able to include preschool children in the backpacks giveaway after a donation from the Sunrise Rotary, she said.

The backpacks will help the young children not only go back to school on the right foot, but be excited about it, Laudenback said.

Watching their parents go back to school and put importance on education also models good behavior for their children, she said.

"The kids are also learning the importance of education," Laudenback said.

Interested in helping?

Project Self Sufficiency is always looking for financial and service donations. To find out more call (714) 536-5439.

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