Hundreds line up for giveaway of school supplies

Staci Hill maneuvered a stroller through the crowd at the Del Norte County Family Resource Center on Wednesday.

Hill, who lives within walking distance of the center, had crammed four backpacks in the stroller - one for each of her kids - and had balanced a few toys on the top.

"I love this program," she said. "A lot of us can't afford school supplies. I think all the people who donated are wonderful people."

Hill and hundreds of other families streamed through the double doors of the resource center at a little after 5 p.m. to pick up new backpacks and school supplies for their children. The resource center collected enough donations for 525 backpacks although the resource center's goal was 600, said facilities coordinator Cathy Tryon.

"We feel good about that," she said as she surveyed the line of people waiting.

Families had already begun to line up at about 3 p.m., Tryon said. By 5 p.m. the line followed the parking lot's perimeter and reached Calaveras Street.

Following the giveaway, which ended at about 6:30 p.m., only 40 backpacks were left over.

"Everybody in line did get a backpack," Tryon said.

Once they made it to the front of the line, families were greeted by Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander, Crescent City Police Chief Doug Plack and resource center Executive Director Jennifer England.

"This is pretty amazing," England said as people continued to pour in. "And all for $20 worth of stuff."

Last year the Family Resource Center gave out 654 backpacks using a donation of 600 backpacks from Sutter Coast Hospital.

"I think every year we've gotten bigger," England said, adding that people don't have to prove that they're low-income to get a backpack. "We get calls year-round about it."

Krystal Hawken was getting backpacks for her six school-age children, ages 5 to 15. Hawken said this is her third year taking advantage of the backpack program and each year it gets bigger.

"This helps out tremendously," Hawken said, adding that backpacks alone can be expensive for six kids. "Even if you get a $10 backpack for six kids that's $60 right there. It's great they do this. A lot of communities do not have services like this."

Jamie Dennison was so eager to get backpacks for her children that she lined up at about 3:30 p.m. Her friend Brandy Stock began standing in line at 4 p.m.

"I think it's absolutely great," Stock said about the program. "By the time they get shoes, clothes and school supplies it costs $300. This is definitely going to help."

Crescent City residents Loretta Raney and Ashley Arnett were picking up backpacks for Raney's 14-year-old and 10-year-old and Arnett's 3-year-old.

"This is the first time for both of us," Raney said. "I think it's really awesome."

For Arnett, who's been trying to find a job, the backpack giveaway is especially helpful.

"Especially if both parents are out of work, it is hard," she said. "It will help."

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