Family Fun Day: Our Kids Are Heading Back To School With Hope

Our education programs do not go on summer vacation. We help the young learners we serve avoid the academic "summer slide" by providing them with continual, consistent access to their educations—all summer long. With a new school year on the horizon, we embarked on a mission to equip our children with the supplies they need to excel in the classroom.  

The children we serve face unique back-to-school challenges. In addition to the typical anxieties that come with the "first day jitters"—new teachers, lessons, and friends—students struggling with homelessness also worry about hunger, clothing, school supplies, and shame. 

Thanks to our extraordinary donors, our Back-To-School Backpack Drive was a soaring success! Each student filled out a "wish list card"—and our donors delivered through our "adopt a child" program and general school supplies donations. Our office quickly filled up with back-to-school bundles, all brimming with academic essentials. Here's a look at the astounding numbers:

114 backpacks

14 corporate/organizational donors

20 individual donors

Our donors were so generous, in fact, that we received an extra 24 backpacks, which will be gifted to new kids who enroll in our programs.

Endless gratitude to all of the individuals, families, companies, and organizations who gave the gift of hope, including: Pacific Total Body Wellness, Modera, Harbor Christian Church, Mission Lutheran Church, KaVo Kerr Group, OC Healthy Smiles, Wells Fargo, Edwards Lifesciences, Orange County United Way, University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Association Orange County Chapter, MOMS Club of Aliso Viejo, Applied Power Concepts, Inc., Pacific Life Corporation, and IES Communications.

We are also overwhelmingly grateful to the beautiful souls who joined us for our drive events in August to help sort and organize school supplies, fill backpacks, and lovingly check each one. You helped make this year's Summer Serve our best one yet!

 Backpack Assembly Party Volunteers

Backpack Assembly Party Volunteers

To celebrate, we invited the children and families we serve to Family Fun Day on Saturday, August 19. In addition to receiving their new backpacks, our kids (and adults!) also enjoyed carnival games, magic shows, face painting, pie- and donut-eating contests, raffles, a reptile booth, a taco vendor, popcorn, and cotton candy for dessert. Pretend City Children's Museum Youth Leadership Council also joined us to pass out their brilliant "brain boxes" to our kids.

As a special treat for the parents we serve, our kids had the opportunity to pick out and wrap two gifts for Mom and Dad via Children Giving Gifts. The organization gives disadvantaged children free gifts to give to others. Many thanks to the incredible Janeen Reiser, Founder/CEO, and her husband Fed Reiser.

Family Fun Day was an amazing event. The families had a great time.
— Tiffany, PHA Director of Youth & Family Stability
We had one parent tell us that each year our event keeps getting better—and that speaks volumes about the time, attention, and love we put into our events and families.
— Tia, PHA Programs Coordinator
Such a fun and beautiful day! Everything about it was done with the kids and families at the center.
— Jennifer, PHA CEO

Looking forward, Ernst & Young and Ruby's Diner in Yorba Linda will host backpack drives for our kids this fall, for which we are beyond thankful. With the tools and opportunities provided by an exceptional education, the children we serve will break the cycle of homelessness.