KidzConnection, Faith Family distribute school supplies for low-income kids

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Aug. 25, 2012 at 3:25 a.m.

Naomi Cruz collects school supplies for her four children at KidzConnection on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012.

Naomi Cruz collects school supplies for her four children at KidzConnection on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012.   Carolina Astrain for The Victoria Advocate

A line of parents and their kids wrapped around the KidzConnection building.

The doors of the Patti Welder Magnet Middle School gym were scheduled to open at 9 a.m., but there they were - two hours early.

On Aug. 18, KizConnection and Faith Family Church teamed up to pass out school supplies and backpacks to families in need.

"A good 600 people came first thing that morning," said Mark Longoria, outreach pastor at Faith Family Church.

The weekend before the supplies were distributed, Faith Family and KidzConnection collected donations and supplies from the community at the two H-E-B grocery stores in Victoria.

"H-E-B was a big help," Longoria said. "They let us park the buses by the building, pre-bagged donated supplies and helped us get the cheapest stuff possible."

Jackie and Juan Morales brought their kids, Juan III, Jade, Kayla and Lorenza, with them to Patti Welder on Friday when they were distributing supplies. The Morales family lost their apartment earlier this summer.

"We got behind in rent so we had to move in with family," said Jackie Morales, who works as a full-time nurse at the Devereux Texas Treatment Network.

Juan Morales was working as a pipe fitter technician but left his job after realizing he wasn't making enough for the hours he was putting in.

"This helps a lot. We're struggling right now," Morales said. "Especially with everything going up this year and all the school supplies being more expensive than usual."

Ashley Cooper, 14, showed up at 8 a.m. in the morning to volunteer at the distribution.

"Families have been so grateful," Cooper said. "I don't think people would be coming here if they didn't need it."

McKaylah Lopez, an incoming freshman at Victoria East High School, said her stepmother signed her up to volunteer.

"There are other things that I could be doing but I'd rather be here making people happy," McKaylah said. "It humbles me."

Victoria resident Iris Mejicanos came to pick up supplies for her four kids.

"It's too many kids to buy supplies for all at once," Mejicanos said.

Mejicanos said she doesn't think that the economy brought her to the free supplies distribution. Although the mother is an unemployed stay-at-home parent, her husband is employed.

"I'm sure a lot of people who can afford it are still going to come. No one's going to pass something up for free," Mejicanos said.

Tammy Sestak, director of federal programs for Victoria ISD, directed traffic for parents crossing North Street from KidzConnection to the middle school gym.

"We've seen lots of smiles today as kids get their backpacks full of supplies," Sestak said. "Lots of families have come through."



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