1,000 east valley students get free supplies ahead of first day of school

MECCA, Calif.- - As east valley students prepare to return to school Thursday, many got the opportunity to get supplies for free, thanks to a backpack giveaway hosted by the Galilee Center in Mecca.

"Some of other families don't have enough money to buy school supplies or backpacks for some of their children, so this is a big opportunity for families to come here and get free stuff," said Victoria Sillas, who is entering sixth grade this year. 

Brand new school items were distributed Wednesday to about 1,000 students who stopped by the Galilee Center.

Claudia Castorena, CFO and co-founder of the Galilee Center, says the event is about taking pressure off parents who might not be able to afford supplies otherwise. 

"100 percent of the people living in this community are low-income so this is a way of helping the families," Castorena said. "They don't have to choose at the end of the month, 'Do we buy school supplies or do we pay the rent or the bills?'"

One mother said especially with a few kids, it can be hard to buy everything necessary for the school year. 

"That helps -- we can buy other things that they need other utilities that are necessary," Diane Vazquez said. "Knowing that they're not going to have to worry about the supplies that they need, knowing they're going to be ready to start on the first day."

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