Niland Event donates 450 backpacks » Holtville Tribune
NOTISLAND – Eager residents of Northend began queuing around 90 minutes before a back-to-school giveaway started, hoping for one or more of the 450 donated backpacks filled with school supplies.
Children in attendance also received free haircuts and shaved ice, all as part of the second annual back-to-school backpack and free haircut campaign held at the House of commerce of Niland on Saturday August 13 in collaboration with the Calipatria Latin American Club.
“We offer a free backpack full of school supplies. It goes from kindergarten to high school, so the supplies differ for each class,” Brittany Saiza, President of the Niland Chamber of Commerce. “We try to provide the more possible because school supplies can be expensive.”
For some parents, back-to-school shopping can be a big blow to the wallet, especially if there’s more than one school-age child in the household. Jerry Aguilar, 38, arrived early from Calipatria with his two children, Samuel, 10, and Sebastian, 9.
“We’re getting ready for school,” Aguilar said. “It’s a big help to be able to get their backpacks and haircuts here.”
Angie Garcia, president of the Calipatria Latin American Club, snapped photos of the students as they enjoyed free haircuts, which were provided by barbers who are part of the new nonprofit, Imperial Valley Barbers Association . The association is made up of several barbers from various Imperial Valley barbershops who donate their time and skills to provide free haircuts at events such as the backpack.
The Calipatria Latin American Club, according to Garcia, is an organization whose goal is to work “to promote education, leadership, and cultural diversity in the community.” In 2021, the backpack distribution took place in Calipatria, where the organization was able to collect 200 backpacks to give away to students. This year in Niland over 450 backpacks were donated for distribution.
“I reached out to local businesses for sponsorship and some of the major contributors were Calipatria State Prison, which donated 100 backpacks, CalEnergy, which donated 100 backpacks, and free shaved ice for all attendees today,” said Saiza of Niland Chamber. “We want the community to know that there are resources available. We want to tackle the issues that can hinder the progress of these children, because these children are the future.
Raised in Niland, Saiza remembers attending events in Niland as a child.
“I started this because we always had events when I was growing up. My mom is from Niland and my dad is from Calipatria. Over time I noticed that Niland was changing and there were fewer events, it became more difficult to do things because of the addiction issues in our town and people started to move away.
Saiza recognizes the importance of engaging the community to participate and invest in improving their city.
“The first (Niland room) ships anything for the community; they were mostly engaged in bickering and fighting,” Saiza said. “I noticed that what was most overlooked were those events that helped young people stay engaged, avoid drug use and stay in school, so I wanted to build a strong foundation for them. kids in this town so there can be a safe space for them to come in. Even though the place is only open once a week, I want them to know that they can come here and talk to someone if they need it.