Houston backpack drive helps hurricane victims, immigrant families

HOUSTON, TX — With the first day of school around the corner, for thousands of students in Houston, basic school supplies are a luxury they cannot afford. This past year in Houston has been fraught with disastrous flooding, and Houston’s backpack drives strive to help those children in need.

“These events allow children to understand that we care about them. And that’s important. Also, every child wants a backpack,” said Congressman Al Green. “Every child wants to be inspired. And every child wants to know that school is a wonderful place to go to.”

The immigrant community in Houston has been hit hard over the past year. Devastation from Hurricane Harvey and growing immigration issues have made the road to recovery difficult. It is programs like this that provide much needed help and relief.

Over 5,000 families were helped by the LaRosa Foundation’s event. Many families, like the Sanchez’s, were homeless, because flooding from Hurricane Harvey destroyed everything they had.

“Everything inside the apartment was rotten with mold, so we had to throw everything away. And we had to start from the bottom all the way again,” said Jesus Sanchez.

“It was horrible, we lost a lot of stuff. And we need new supplies to get ready for school.”

25% of children in Harris country live below the poverty line. Making it difficult, or even impossible for many of these students to have school supplies they need.

Many in Houston’s immigrant community also struggle with the constant fear of increased ICE activity. It was very difficult to get families attending the backpack drive to talk to B.A. Some even ran away or covered their faces, for fear that being on camera would increase their visibility to immigration enforcement.

Local Fil-Am volunteers were front and center, eager to serve and help the healing of the community.

“The volunteer organizations are trying to re-unite the community. If only to give them a sense of safety. That we are here and willing to help,” says Conrad Montilla. “With the backpacks, it gives them support with school, at least it gives them a sense of normalcy.

Organizers hope that the children not only take their backpacks, but also take away confidence and big smiles, as they take their first steps of the school year into the classroom.

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