As students across the Peninsula head back to school, the Ecumenical Hunger Program based in East Palo Alto is aiming to provide clothes and supplies for hundreds of students in need.
Executive Director Lesia Preston stated that the number of students in need for the nonprofit's back-to-school drive this year has increased "tremendously" from last year. The program served 937 students in June and have approximately 50 students on the waitlist. The program is currently serving 850 to 1,000 students, depending on how often families who have signed up visit the center.
The Ecumenical Hunger Program requests that community members donate gift cards, backpacks, new clothes and school supplies. Redwood City nonprofit My New Red Shoes will provide approximately 800 pairs of shoes to students, including some who are not clients of the program. Hygiene items will also be accepted for students to use year-round.
Preston emphasized that new clothes are particularly desired, as local youth often have to wear hand-me-down items and the program's community closet is already highly used. The nonprofit has a need for high-waist jeans, undergarments, socks, shirts and pants for school uniforms. Preston stated that the program wants to give students at least two to three new outfits for school.
"They (the students) are so happy to wear something new that fits them," Preston said.
Gift cards are also accepted for donation in the amount of $25 or more. Suggested stores for gift cards include Walmart, Target and Best Buy.
Preston stated that the drive will continue until all students have returned to school; she estimated the drive will finish by the end of September.
"It is so special to wear something new like the other kids," Preston said.
Donations to the Ecumenical Hunger Program can be dropped off or mailed to: Ecumenical Hunger Program, 2411 Pulgas Ave., East Palo Alto, CA, 94303.