On the cusp of Brawley students heading back to school, Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District on Aug. 16 provided critical care with sought-after backpacks for the new academic year.
Pioneers provided 200 backpacks, while associates Hidalgo Society and Ventanilla de Salud offered other supplies to help children launch into the new school year with a boost, noted Karina Lopez, Pioneers public affairs liaison.
Students formed a line snaking to the sidewalk as they proceeded through Hidalgo Hall to collect the donations.
"We're happy to partner with Hidalgo Society and give kids a good start to the school year," said Lopez.
Pioneers hosted a table along with nine other exhibitors to inform the public of the variety of health facilities at their disposal. These included Pioneers Children's Health Center on Main Street in Brawley and the Pioneers Wound Clinic.
It was the inaugural backpack give away and it is hoped it will become an annual tradition, remarked Esther Sanchez-Banda, Hidalgo Society president.
While Pioneers provided backpacks, it was Hidalgo that filled them with supplies. This included pencils, crayons, glue sticks and erasers. Hidalgo received generous community donations to support the health and wellness event, explained Sanchez-Banda.
"I think the importance of today is to remind everybody why we need to give back to the community," she said. "And we want to make sure the kids get a head start to begin the school year right."
She added, "Our motto is assist families in need and we know school supplies can be costly. But we'd like to remind the community we accept contributions year ‘round and people can make donations to the Hidalgo Society, P.O. Box 1408, Brawley 92227."
Assisting with ushering students and parents through the maze of health data and accessories were this year's Cinco de Mayo queens, Jazzlyn Zendejas and Kiana Arce. Kiana is a sophomore at Brawley Union High School and said she is eager to return to school.
"I'm a varsity cheerleader and excited for football since the Wildcats will do great this year," said Kiana. "I start school on Monday but this is a fun thing to do and get out of the house."
Added Jazzlyn, "I like helping out but we (Barbara Worth Junior High School) don't go back to school until Aug. 27. I'm excited because I've never been to middle school. And I'm going to try out for softball, basketball and soccer."
Queueing through the line was Rachelle Ramirez and several of her children. Ramirez noted the event helps families with numerous children in school to save a little money.
"Last year, I got school supplies and spent $100 and that's without clothes or shoes," said Ramirez. "I'm happy school is starting but I still got two more (Issiah and Israel) at home," she said.
Her seventh-grade daughter, Valerie Marquez, will be at Barbara Worth this year. Valerie remarked she will miss summer when she had all day to talk on her phone and also have her cousins at her house when they could ride bicycles together or play tag.
"But at junior high it'll be fun to move to different classrooms for each subject," she said. "And this year I plan to try out for cheer leading."
One popular exhibit table was hosted by the Imperial Valley Lions Club. Club member Adriana Buelna had 200 pairs of reading glasses at assorted magnifications to give away. Taking the opportunity to outfit his nieces, second-grader-to-be Daisy Alcara and fourth-grader-to-be Jazzmin Ruiz, with glasses was David Silvas, who said he appreciated the giveaway.
Buelna would like residents to know the Lions' Friends in Sight Foundation will sponsor a fair for free eye glasses Dec. 1-2 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Calexico Community Center, 707 Dool Ave. The club will host optometrists from San Diego who will conduct full eye exams and have 1,000 pairs of glasses to give away.
Providing welcoming treats in the 100-plus-degree temperatures outside Hidalgo hall was the Spears Hawaiian Shaved Ice van. Resident Theresa Francos was enjoying a cup of shaved ice with her granddaughter, Alexis Castro, a Phil Swing School sixth grader to be.
"I'm excited to go back to school," said Alexis. "I'm already on the safety patrol, but I want to join the cheer leader squad."