Shortly after lunch during their weekly meeting on Aug. 16, members of the Rotary Club of Gilroy got in a line, grabbed a backpack and stuffed it with notebooks, erasers, pencils and more school necessities that were laid out across a long row of tables.
The stacks of 300 backpacks and piles of numerous supplies, while a daunting image, were quickly depleted, and in no time at all, the tables were cleared and the bed of a pickup truck parked outside of the Gilroy Lodge on the Hill was overflowing with colorful backpacks awaiting to be hauled to needy schoolchildren.
The backpack drive was completed just in time for the start of the new school year in the Gilroy Unified School District on Aug. 17.
Rotarian Kelly Ramirez organized the drive, which benefits families served by the nonprofit Community Solutions.
Ramirez said the club organizes quarterly community service projects, and in 2021 held the backpack drive for Community Solutions.
“I reached out again this year and asked if there was a need, and they said there was more of a need than last year,” she said.
Community Solutions was in need of at least 1,000 backpacks, according to Ramirez, so Rotary set a goal of 300, which it exceeded thanks to the donations by the Rotarians.
“Our Rotary club does what it does best,” she said. “It pulls through.”
She added that the pandemic likely led to the greater need for backpacks and supplies this year, as cash-strapped parents are forced to tighten up their wallets.
“Unfortunately, the burden will fall on school teachers pulling from their own pockets,” Ramirez said. “We’re trying to help alleviate that as well.”
With the return of school on Aug. 17 comes the increase in vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and the Gilroy Police Department is reminding drivers to slow down around schools and stop for school buses with flashing red lights.