EPCC is conducting its fourth annual School Supply Drive which began collecting items in early February to support elementary school children.
The supplies donated are distributed through an event known as “The School Store,” which usually takes place late July or early August at the Rio Grande Campus.
JESSICA BARRAGAN/ TEJANO TRIBUNE
El Paso community members collecting supplies for the new
school year, visit page 8 for donation EPCC drop-off locations.
“Our main goal is to gather enough school supplies so that in the summer when we have the big event, The School Store, we can invite children from local elementary schools and shelters to come and participate,” Shanan Valles, The School Store coordinator and Rio Grande Psychology Instructor said.
According to Valles, the main reason she decided to create this event was because she wanted to help the children.
She thought about all the kids who don’t get to have brand new backpacks and supplies on their first day of school like other kids do.
“I can only imagine how that makes them feel. How sad or excluded they might feel,” Valles said.
“We thought that this would be a great way to help out some of the families that are in most need here in El Paso. So that these little kids can have their school supplies already when they go back to school.”
The schools that have been invited include Mesita Elementary, Lamar Elementary, Aoy Elementary School, Hart Elementary School and Zavala Elementary School.
Then, Valles contacts counselors and has them identify which kids are in most need. However, elementary schools are not the only ones who are invited to this event.
“We have also invited a couple of organizations and shelters for women and children such as Moor Lee & Beulah Children’s Home, The Salvation Army and La Posada Home,” Valles said.
Supplies are gathered at several EPCC campuses with the help of students, faculty, staff, local businesses and organizations.
JESSICA BARRAGAN/ TEJANO TRIBUNE
Acceptable school supplies includes glue, crayons, notebooks, pencils, erasers, etc.
“We’ve had participation from many such as the EPCC Cheerleaders, The Nursing Department, The Criminal Justice Department and the Culinary Arts Program,” Irene Perez, Student Learning Program Clerk, said.
“We’ve also had support from different companies such as Whataburger and Pepsi.”
At the School Store event the children walk with their parents and visit the different booths.
“These kids come and see all of the cool things that EPCC has to offer. It gives them a chance to learn about what we do in here at EPCC. We start to get them thinking about what they can be when they grow up,” Valles explained.
She also stated that they use this opportunity to inform parents. “We let them know about all the various programs we have here and how easy it is to start taking classes at EPCC,” Valles said.
For every booth the children visit, they get paid with “Tejano Bucks.” The children also get a card with each station to be signed or stamped. Then, they use these to shop for their supplies at the “little store.”
“They take the money and the slip to us. With it, they can get whatever they want or need,” Perez said.
“It helps them feel like they are contributing and helping out their parents.”
The School Supply Drive started out as a small event but it has expanded and grown significantly according to Perez, “At the beginning, it was very little; it was probably only 50 kids who’d come. Now, more people are joining and helping us out.”
Both Perez and Valles have expressed their hopes to expand this program to more schools.
“Last year we had over 200 children come. This year, I’m hoping we get over 300, maybe even more,” said Valles.
Values said that the EPCC community can expand the program by running the donation drive at their campus. “That would be awesome.”