School supplies provide kids with joy

COSTA MESA — There were cheers of delight Thursday when about a dozen high school boys walked into a fourth-grade classroom after school towing a wagon stacked with pink, purple and blue pencil boxes and other school supplies.

"Yes!" yelled Edgar Castillo, 10, as the supplies came into view.

The excitement continued as the boxes were passed out.

Michelle Villa, 9, opened hers with a little gasp — her mouth making a perfect O — as she pulled out pencils, a sharpener, pencil eraser toppers, crayons, scissors and colored pencils.

Michelle said all of her supplies were low and was excited "because there's new stuff."

The Beach City Service League donated 120 boxes of school supplies to each child in Whittier Elementary School's Project Success Thursday and Friday. The Beach City boys are expected to donate 80 boxes to the Illumination Foundation, which helps the homeless, Friday and Saturday.

"It was fun, and it's nice to give back and help people out," said Beach City junior Derek Kula, 17.

He said he doesn't see the visit as a one-time thing.

"When it makes an impact like that …it makes us want to come back," he said.

Project Success is an after-school program designed to give kids a safe environment that incorporates academic help, enrichment activities and recreation. The program supports nearly 1,000 students at nine Costa Mesa elementary schools.

Julpha Maniquis-Dormitorio, a teacher on special assignment working with Project Success, said there are a lot of families in need at Whittier, especially this time of year, and the program is always in need to supplies, especially pencils.

"I don't know what they do, but they eat through them," she said. "We're always, always short on pencils."

Beach City mother Susan Friend, whose children started the school supply drive three years ago at Newport Harbor High School, said the boys have been collecting supplies, donating money and putting together the boxes.

The project, though, was also meant to give the high schoolers a chance to interact with the kids, she said.

The Beach City boys handed out elaborately decorated Christmas cookies and juice boxes before helping the students with holiday crafts like making a snowman, Christmas present or, in Edgar's case, a puppet.

Beach City senior Hamilton Randle, 18, said he was surprised by the kids' reaction to such a small gift.

"I didn't think that something that little would get them so excited," he said, adding later "It makes you realize how fortunate that we are.

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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