With kids heading back to classrooms this month for the start of a new school year, families can pick up free school supplies and get COVID-19 vaccinations at the same time in East Palo Alto on Saturday.
Bags of supplies, including notebooks, pencils, erasers and face masks, will be available. COVID-19 vaccinations also will be offered during a school supply distribution event from 9 a.m. to noon at 2043 Euclid Ave. and then from 1-4 p.m. at Bridge Pop Park, at the corner of West Bayshore and Newell roads.
The annual event is operated by Woodland Park Communities, which is the community outreach arm of Woodland Park Apartments, a roughly 1,800-apartment complex in East Palo Alto.
According to Teresa Morales, Woodland Park’s community engagement manager, Saturday’s event is part of a broader attempt "to bring resources to this community that has been for the longest time unable to access fully all the benefits of organizations and services that are on the other side of the freeway."
This year, organizers scheduled the supply giveaway to coincide with a pair of weekly vaccination clinics. Sutter Health will offer vaccines at the Euclid Avenue site and Stanford Health Care will provide shots near Bridge Pop Park at an existing 45 Newell Road vaccination location.
The Saturday vaccine clinics are one component of an effort by a group of local leaders and groups to boost East Palo Alto's vaccination rate. The project has also included door-to-door canvassing to give residents information about the vaccines.
Back in March, East Palo Alto Mayor Carlos Romero, the local nonprofit Youth Community Service and others became part of Umoja Health, a collective that works to bring equitable access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, said Mora Oommen, the executive director of Youth Community Service.
"We know that discrepancies in health care got even more apparent when COVID hit," Oommen said. Black and brown communities "were the worst hit ... and the last to get access to testing and then vaccines."
The weekly vaccine clinics were set up as a way to ensure that anyone who wants a shot can easily get one.
"Let's get a higher percentage of vaccination in East Palo Alto," Morales said. "We want those numbers to go up for the benefit of every person in this community."