On Saturday morning the Housing Authority of the City of El Paso (HACEP), with assistance from the Hunt Family Foundation’s donation of $10,000 to there were over 300 children from the agency’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Section 8 program who benefitted from the 9th Annual Back-To-School Fair.
“This event gives children in our HCV program a chance to get ahead on the school year with a new backpack and school supplies to start the academic year prepared,” said HACEP CEO Gerald Cichon. “We are excited to offer this event for the ninth year and are grateful to the Hunt Family Foundation for its generous support.”
Hunt Companies, through their Family Foundation, donated $10,000 to HACEP in order to make this annual event possible. There were over 300 backpacks filled with necessary school supplies – like paper, scissors, notebooks, folders, glue, erasers and more – for a total value of $30 per backpack.
For families with multiple children in school at the same time, the start of the school year can become a financial struggle. According to Uplift Family Services, a California-based community and behavioral health service organization that advocates on behalf of children, children are typically excited for a new school year but encounter mild-to-severe anxiety due to a lack of resources required by school districts.
“Every child should be excited to go back to school and prepared with the necessary school supplies,” said City of El Paso District #2 Representative Alexsandra Annello. “No child should feel embarrassed for not having what they need, nor should the parents struggle to provide their child the opportunities to succeed. This is why events like HACEP’s Back-To-School fair are so incredibly important because it encourages our community to support one another and set our children up for success.”
For the past eight years, HACEP has impacted the lives of over 3,000 children across all of its affordable housing programs and their families by providing the tools necessary to help them be successful in the classroom. One of the cornerstones of HACEP’s mission is to provide families with the tools necessary to lead a life of self-sufficiency, and in many ways this annual event is a major thread through the fabric of this initiative.
“As a parent myself, this event is just as important for the parents as it is for the children, because the parents are the ones who champion the young ones,” said HACEP Board of Commissioners Chairman Francisco Ortega. “These children see the effort that’s put into this event and it’s my hope they place a similar effort in their education.”
To help embody the essence of ‘champion,’ HACEP’s Back-To-School fair also featured El Paso’s Sweetheart and IBF World Featherweight Champion Jennifer Han – the Sun City’s homegrown champion. Jennifer Han shared words of encouragement with the families and children and speak to them about the importance of fighting for their future.
“I’m so honored to be part of this event witnessing the hundreds of young men and young women acknowledging the importance of their education and what it will mean for their future,” shares World Champion Jennifer Han. “As an El Pasoan, I am proud to champion our community and each one of these families and show that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can become the person you want to be.”
In addition to receiving backpacks full of school supplies, children and families were also able to enjoy access to a Health Fair – an added component to HACEP’s annual event – featuring 15 vendors highlighting public services offered to families.
Local community partners included Desert Sun Chiropractor, Allstate Insurance, Kool Smiles and more. Families were able to receive information on services afforded to them, along with health care items and even bicycle helmets for children provided by The Texas Department of State Health Services.
Gallery courtesy HACEP