Going back to school is an exciting time for many kids, but trying to afford school supplies and clothes is a burden for parents living in the Bakersfield Homeless Center.
"A lot of the parents were really worried about school stuff,” says Jennifer Murray, a mother of four children who lives at the homeless center with her husband William.
The Murray family is relieved the burden of buying backpacks and school uniforms for three of their kids is no longer on their shoulders.
"The school told us they needed to have to have uniforms by Monday,” William Murray says. “So this really helps us out a lot."
Close to 100 kids lie their heads in the homeless center every night. Crowds of shelter residents lined the center’s entrance for its annual backpack drive, where it gave away hundreds of bags, supplies and socks to needy families.
"We weren't going to be able to afford uniforms until after school started,” Jennifer Murray says. “And we didn't want them to go to school looking different from everybody else."
Maria Diaz says her son Janoven is prepared to start first-grade. He has a backpack, a couple pairs of shorts, two t-shirts and some books.
“It’s really hard,” Diaz says. “But you know, I’m really fortunate that we got some things so that he can start school because it helps us a lot.”
Diaz is a single mom expecting another baby boy in three days. She says she's grateful for the giveaway.
"It's beautiful, I love it,” she says. “I just can’t believe they're doing all of this for us."
Jerri Alvarado, the after-school director for the homeless center says each child receives two books, a backpack, two or three sets of clothing, socks, underwear and other necessities.
"The families have been very excited, the children have been over the top,” Alvarado says. “For them to have a back pack that they've chosen that's full of supplies, it will just help their self esteem and the way they feel as they walk onto the campus."
The homeless center collected more than 500 backpacks and school supplies from donations. Some supplies will also go to families who've recently moved out of the center but still need help covering the cost of back-to-school supplies.