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El Paso ISD’s Teachers Leading Backpack, Supply Drive Saturday

A backpack drive spearheaded by EPISD teachers in the Northeast last year netted 3,000 school supply-filled bags for students in the Andress and Irvin feeder schools.

This year, the teachers hope to do it all over again … except bigger.

The teachers — who bonded together to form the Northeast Youth Stride for Success Foundation after witnessing students carrying worn-out book bags to school — have already begun taking donations to continue their effort at Andress and Irvin schools. This year, however, they will expand their services to the Chapin and Andress feeder patterns as well.

“It is incredible how it gets bigger every year,” said teacher Ricky Ramirez, who along with coach Andrew Macias began the foundation five years ago. “It would not be possible without all the help of the community. It touches my heart to see everyone come together to make sure these kids have the necessary tools to pursue their educational career.”

The backpack drive will take place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Kmart on 9484 Dyer. Online donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/2eamfvw

Tom Lea Elementary teacher Corina Rendon joined the fundraising efforts early on and sees the benefit of being able to provide backpacks for struggling families.

“There are a lot of low income families in our community, and if they have a multiple kids it can become difficult to buy supplies for all of them,” Rendon said. “If we can help them out with one or two students that is a big help.”

Last year, a GoFundMe page was created in unison with the drive to reach more students.

“We were able to obtain a lot of funds online, making it possible to give out more backpacks,” Rendon said. “We are trying to include more schools as the years go on.”

Initially the foundation sought to help students in the Andress and Irvin feeder patterns, but with the support of the community they have expanded the drive this year to benefit students in the Chapin and Austin feeder patterns too.

Athletes and cheerleaders from the high schools will be on hand during the backpack drive on Aug. 6, holding signs and asking for donations.

“Every year we have students out here helping us,” Ramirez said. “They are out in the hot sun trying to get donations. They really enjoy helping out.” The backpacks are given to the school counselors, who are aware of families that may have a need.

As a teacher Rendon knows how important it is for the students to have the necessary supplies they need for school.

“The kids like to go into class with their own stuff,” Rendon said. “This gives them that opportunity to have all they need. It’s really rewarding being able to provide that for them.

For more information, call the EPISD Office of Community Engagement.

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