May Ranch Park in Perris become the scene of a backpack giveaway that provided badly needed school materials to 1,000 deserving school children in the City.
Perris Mayor Pro-Tem Tonya Burke, City Councilman David Starr Rabb and Planning Commissioner Brady McCarron helped distribute the backpacks, pencils, notebooks, crayons and other supplies July 25.
City representatives teamed up with the non-profit group Sisters Going Deeper in God and other businesses and individuals at the May Ranch Park event.
Tracey Holcomb, founder and chief executive officer of the Perris-based Sisters Going Deeper in God, said lines began gathering at 7 a.m., three hours before the scheduled start of the backpack distribution.
“I was shocked.” Holcomb said. “There were so many people there and they were so gracious. That really touched my heart. Everyone was very grateful.”
Holcomb said the organization serves women, children and military veterans, which places an emphasis on single mothers. She drew upon her own experiences as a single mom raising three kids while in the Army and serving in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm.
Holcomb said the non-profit Perris- based Sisters Going Deeper in God plans resume-writing classes for high-school students and is working with the Val Verde Unified School District to provide adult mentors to elementary and middle school students.
Burke and Rabb said they were pleased to help Perris school children gear up for the coming year. Students from kindergarten to high school seniors took part.
“It was such a wonderful program to be part of,” Burke said. “It felt like Christmas morning when children open their presents. You could tell they were so happy to be part of this event. I don’t think a single child who received a backpack failed to say thank you.”
Burke said that, as a public servant, she is committed to helping the community whenever possible.
“As a human being, it is my responsibility,” she said. “We are always here to serve.”
Rabb said his mother died when he was in high school and he had to work to help support the family. So he knows first-hand how students can struggle to graduate high school.
“The event drew a lot of people,” Rabb said. “A lot of kids really appreciated receiving the backpacks and school supplies. It’s important to get out and help the kids.”
McCarron called the school-supply giveaway “a perfect trifecta involving non-profits, the City of Perris and small businesses.” All the backpacks and classroom materials were purchased in Perris, ensuring that the money spent stayed in the City. McCarron recalled one small boy who, after opening his backpack, discovered it was loaded with school supplies and told everyone he saw about the unexpected bonanza.
“It almost brought tears to my eyes,” McCarron said. “It was Perris pride at its best. It was all about the kids and for me it was an absolutely great day.”
Sponsors included the City of Perris, the Boys and Girls Club of Perris, Walmart, Sisters Going Deeper in God, Sam’s Club, Grid Alternatives, CR&R, Blue Shield of California, Community Action Partnership and Jr. Sports, Tsega Inc. (a Murrieta hair salon) and AYBS barbershop, which provided 50 haircuts. Individual sponsors included Perris Mayor Pro-Tem Tonya Burke, Perris City Councilman David Starr Rabb, Perris Planning Commissioner Brady McCarron, State Sen. Richard Roth, James Dudley and Valenti Thomas. Ali Mazarei, owner of ARCO Travel Zone Center, contributed the largest individual donation.