Time for Change - Columbus started its Back to School Bash event 15 minutes early on Wednesday because the line of cars at Columbus Middle School was so long.
By 5:36 p.m., they were all out of elementary school backpacks and handed out information for the Simon House school supplies event next week. By 5:52, they had completely run out of all 200 backpacks.
"We've organized this Back to School Bash for over five years," said Time for Change Director Santiago Vasquez. "This year, because of COVID, we can only give out school supplies. We kind of did this because we know there is a need for low-income families."
In past years, the bash has included giving out information, for example, about substance abuse and mental health issues. They also provided a meal in the past.
He said for low-income families and families with a lot of kids it can be a hardship to get supplies.
"We're trying to do this as a service to the community," Vasquez said.
Vasquez and the volunteers wore masks and gloves. They took a family's "order" and brought backpacks with supplies to the cars, assembly-line style.
The main issue they saw during distance learning were technology issues like not being able to connect to WiFi, though the school district provided each student with a device and set up connection points, said Vasquez.
"A lot of parents did not understand the technology," he said.
He said helping people out is rewarding.
"You feel like you're doing something for the betterment of Columbus and Columbus is actually the community where we all live, we all share," Vasquez said. "If somebody is doing a little bit better, we're all doing a little bit better."
Vanessa and Rachel Oceguera listened for calls like "one boy" or "one of each" and picked up the appropriate backpacks to hand off to other volunteers.
"It's good. It's the right thing to do at this point in everyone's lives," said Vanessa.
School supplies are expensive, she said.
"There was a family that came through with seven kids," she said. "And then you don't know if you're going to use them if they have to go to online classes."
By around 5:45, the long line of cars had slowed down.
At 5:52, volunteers handed the final boy backpack and girl backpack to the one car in line. Another car soon pulled up behind it.
"OK, that's all of them," said Vanessa.
"Oh no," Rachel said, in response.
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