Backpack giveaway: Precinct distributes supplies to local schoolchildren

Cameron County Pct. 4 Commissioner Gus Ruiz loads two backpacks filled with school supplies into the back of a vehicle on Saturday. By Maricela Rodriguez, Valley Morning Star

LA FERIA — They came in droves.

Car after car of parents, kids and grandparents all seeking one thing: backpacks.

And not just any backpack. These backpacks Saturday morning at the Cameron County Commissioner’s office on White Ranch Road were filled with pencils, crayons, pouches and glue — and much more.

“This morning we’ve got our backpack distribution for the children in our precinct,” said Gus Ruiz, commissioner for Cameron County Precinct 4.

“We’re servicing eight of our public school districts inside of our precinct,” Ruiz said. “We are trying to make sure that our children are ready for school.”

Ruiz said the distribution began at 9 a.m. with 540 backpacks. Within an hour, half of those had gone to the local kids. While the precinct tries to do this at least every other year — and hopefully every year — more backpacks were being given way this year that ever before.

“The economy is down because of COVID 19,” Ruiz said. “A lot of people lost their jobs. The school environment is a different environment. We want to make sure that we get our children ready for school, whether they’re going live or online.”

Local families appreciated the effort.

“I feel real good,” said Santos Garza, who’d driven from Santa Rosa to obtain backpacks for his five grandchildren.

“Right now with what’s going on it’s very important,” he said. “It saves time, but most of all it’s for the kids.”

A team of volunteers stood at the ready to deliver the goods as the August sun bore down on them.

“How many kids you got?” a woman asked the driver of a red F150.

“Three,” the driver answered.

“Boys or girls?” the volunteer asked.

“Three girls!”

Children excitedly looked out the window as volunteers approached the back of the vehicles with colorful supply filled backpacks for the start of the school year. By Maricela Rodriguez, Valley Morning Star

Three green and black backpacks fully loaded were quickly delivered to the driver.

Volunteers appreciated the opportunity to help.

“It’s been very nice serving the people of Precinct 4,” said Cyndi Wyche, who teaches kindergarten at Stuart Place Elementary.

Volunteers loaded up school supplies into the vehicles as families drove up to the distributing area at the Cameron County Pct. 4 Office in La Feria on Saturday. By Maricela Rodriguez, Valley Morning Star

“This is school supplies for everyone in Cameron County,” Wyche said. “It’s not just for Harlingen CISD. We are servicing La Feria, Santa Rosa, Harlingen, San Benito. It’s for Jubilee, IDEA Academy, anybody.”

So great was the need that some people had arrived before 7 a.m., waiting until distribution began at 9 a.m. By 10 a.m. traffic had slowed for just a moment. Wyche was ready for the second rush as others began waking up.

twhitehead@valleystar.com