“When I go to school, I really want people to feel the same as me, that they have the same supplies so they can work in school,” Estillore said. “It’s a privilege to have some new stuff to use.”
Tracy Interfaith Ministries volunteers, including Estillore, are filling hundreds of new backpacks with school supplies this month as the nonprofit organization prepares to distribute them starting July 22 to local kindergarten through 12th-grade students.
Tracy Interfaith, 311 W. Grant Line Road, hopes to hand out 800 backpacks to children of families served by the food bank.
But the organization is more than 200 backpacks short of its goal and also needs more than 350 additional binders and packages of wide-ruled paper.
John Day, 67, an Interfaith volunteer, said the supply-laden backpacks make the difference for some children between showing up at school empty handed and arriving ready to learn.
“A student may have parents that may not have a job, might not make a lot of money, might be out of work or could be a client at Interfaith,” Day said. “That student goes to school — he doesn’t have a new backpack, he doesn’t have crayons, he doesn’t have a pen, he doesn’t have what he needs.”
Each brand-new backpack will be filled with paper, pens, pencils, notebooks and binders.
Children in first through sixth grades will have crayons and glue added to their backpacks, while older students will receive markers.
“It makes a big difference in the kid’s life, and the mom and dad’s, too,” Day said. “If they can’t provide for their children because of a financial situation, they don’t feel real good about it, either.”
Tracy Interfaith has distributed backpacks for four years, a program started by director Darlene Quinn and Linda Gleason.
Each year, the number of students needing school supplies has grown up from last year’s total near 700, Day said.
This year’s effort was boosted by a donation of 550 gray and black backpacks given by local resident Janette Bormann.
Bormann ran a similar program in Alameda County, but the packs had been sitting in storage since she moved to Tracy.
Tracy Interfaith still needs backpacks for students in seventh to 12th grades. Backpacks can’t be red or blue, colors that are associated with gangs.
Kayla McGuinness, an incoming junior at Kimball High, also helped unwrap and fill backpacks on July 1.
Grabbing a handful of pens for a backpack, she said she could imagine what the donations would mean for students who don’t have school supplies.
“I know a lot of kids at my school, if they don’t have the things, they won’t do the work,” McGuinness said. “It’s a good way to get people to learn — these kids are getting what they need to succeed.”