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Oakland Lend A Hand Foundation Leads Backpack, School Supply Drive For OUSD

Lend A Hand Foundation Leads Backpack and School Supply Drive for 19 OUSD Schools; Family Giving Tree Supporting Students at 15 Schools

Oakland – With the start of school now just five days away, back to school shopping is on the minds of a lot of students and families across Oakland. But for the students at nearly half of all District-run K-12 schools, their school supplies are taken care of because of the remarkable work of the Lend A Hand Foundation and Family Giving Tree.

On Saturday, July 31, Elmhurst United Middle School was the site of a huge backpack stuffing event for Lend A Hand, where dozens of people loaded up backpacks for students in different grades with all the necessary school supplies including paper, folders, notebooks, pens, pencils, hand sanitizer, and numerous other items. “Lend A Hand is amazing,” said City Councilmember Loren Taylor, who dropped by to thank the volunteers. “We’ve got incredible organizations like the 100 Black Men, like different fraternities and sororities. I see PG&E, Target volunteers, corporate partners, so many that are coming together to show our kids that they care, and they matter.”

The effort ran like an assembly line with people carrying one or two backpacks at a time through the supplies, and picking up what each student would need in their grade. In all, they packed 8500 backpacks for distribution to students at elementary, middle and high schools across the city. The backpacks will be handed out mostly on the first day of school, but there are some events happening between now and then where students will get their backpacks early.

“We’re just really excited that kids are able to get back to school and see their teachers and friends,” said Dee Johnson, the founder and Executive Director of Lend A Hand Foundation. “We’re excited that we could do this. But we couldn’t do this by ourselves, so we had a lot of sponsors, and it’s been a pleasure to work with OUSD for many years. This is our 22nd annual.”

Among the volunteers were several high school students from outside Oakland, who wanted to support Oakland students. “Just happy to be able to help people and pack backpacks for kids going to school who don’t have them,” said Wendy Lin, a sophomore at Castro Valley High School.

The backpacks put together by Lend A Hand and all its supporters will go to students at 19 schools, where families won’t have to worry about buying backpacks or school supplies, at least for now. The schools are Ralph Bunche Academy, Castlemont High, CCPA, Community Day, Dewey Academy, Elmhurst United Middle, Fremont High, Frick United Academy of Language, Garfield Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary, Life Academy, Madison Park Secondary, McClymonds High, Oakland International High, Rudsdale Continuation, Rudsdale Newcomer, Sojourner Truth High, West Oakland Middle and our Young Adult Program.

Board of Education Director, Dr. Clif Thompson (left) and City Councilmember Loren Taylor (right) with two young volunteers at Saturday’s Lend A Hand Foundation backpack stuffing event.
“It’s really poignant for me that we have it here at Elmhurst because in District 7, well, we’re kind of lagging behind, to be honest, in some areas. We’re doing this because we really want our kids to understand that we’re here and behind them 100%,” said Board of Education District 7 Director, Dr. Clif Thompson. “This is an awesome event, where everyone is coming together, everyone is working, making certain that our kids actually have what’s necessary to excel in school.”

The Family Giving Tree is also delivering backpacks and school supplies to 15 schools. They are Acorn Woodland, Bret Harte Middle, Bridges at Melrose, EnCompass Academy, Franklin Elementary, Hoover Elementary, International Community School, Madison Park Primary, Oakland High, Prescott Elementary, Roosevelt Middle, Sankofa United Elementary, Think College Now, United For Success, and Urban Promise Academy.

One young volunteer knows well what this kind of support means to the young people who get it. “Man, it’s just an amazing opportunity to give back to the community I grew up in,” said Chabot College student, Josiah Harris, who attended New Highland Academy and Frick Middle School before moving to San Leandro. “I was standing in line trying to get backpacks in elementary and middle school. I needed supplies, I needed backpacks, and that stuff can be so expensive, especially for a family who is struggling. So, it feels good to be able to come here and just be able to literally lend a hand – like the foundation.”

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About the Oakland Unified School District
In California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 80 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success.

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