Faith Family prepares school supply donations for families in need
The rustling sound of plastic bags resonated in the room as Faith Family Church volunteers distributed school supplies to families in need Saturday.
Pack the Bus is an annual school supply drive hosted by Faith Family Church and has benefited up to 720 families and 1,500 individual children in preparation for the upcoming school year.
"It's a lot of hard work, but seeing the reaction on the kids' faces is amazing," said Veronica Escalona, a Victoria resident and Pack the Bus first-time volunteer.
About 63 percent of Victoria school district students are economically disadvantaged, according to Advocate archives.
Becky Vasquez, the event's coordinator, said she became involved three years ago after her husband lost his job right before Christmas.
"I didn't have any money to get Christmas gifts for my kids, so a friend of mine told me about Faith Family," Vasquez, 31, said. "I felt bad that I was taking when I usually buy every year."
The experience led Vasquez to volunteer and eventually become lead coordinator for Toys for Tots and Pack the Bus.
"I feel like every year, it doubles," Vasquez said. "It just warms my heart to know we are here to help others."
Mark Longoria, Faith Family Church outreach pastor, said once everything is distributed at Pack the Bus, the remaining supplies are sent to the Victoria school district's Kidz Connection for homeless and needy students.
"Christmas has come early for coming back to school," Longoria said. "Education is the key to success, and we want our kids to know that."
Adin Cavazos, 6, was sitting next to his grandfather helping people receive their supplies.
Adin, a Torres Elementary School first-grader, said he loves being a member of Faith Family Church.
"I like everything about it," Adin said. "The food, the learning, the games, the XBoxes - all the good stuff."
Vasquez smiled as she watched families collect their designated donation bags.
"I love doing volunteer work," Vasquez said. "I love to see all the faces."