To the editor:

A few weeks ago we started our annual donation for backpacks.

Our goal was to fill 1,000 backpacks with supplies and then give them away to the participants of the health fair.

We started with the churches playing in the Cops vs. Clergy basketball game, and then spread the word to the community.

The outcome was a record success!

We had the 1,000 backpacks donated by Loma Linda University Health and the Banning Unified School District.

The supplies came from across the Banning Pass area and included Sunrise Church, Praise Tabernacle Community Church, Our Savior Lutheran, St. Kateri Tekwakwitha Catholic Church, Fountain of Life Church of God in Christ, Banning United Methodist Church, Canaan Assembly of God and the parishioners of these churches who donated many, many school supplies.

We had an outstanding amount of monetary donations that allowed us to purchase the supplemental supplies such as writing tablets, protractors, file folders, glue, crayons, index cards, composition books, rulers and other such school supplies that are needed to start the school year.

Donors included ProLine racing, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Mr. and Mrs. Mathews, Zenner Performance Water Meters, Crossroads Ministries International, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Bank of Hemet, San Gorgonio Pass Rotary Club, Lifepoint Church, St. Stephen’s Church, Tracy Wells, Faith in Action of the San Gorgonio Pass, and many more anonymous donors who dropped off supplies at The Haven and Johnny Russo’s.

The day had cooled off as we started preparing for the 11th annual distribution of backpacks.

A very warm thank you to the health fair vendors who came and set up.

They included Family Services Association, Sandals Church, Florida Street Discovery Center.

Hope Unlimited provided a bouncy house and Sunrise Church wowed everyone with free snow cones. Lorenzo Amis played festive music and the high school’s Key Club were our helpers.

Other vendors included the Banning Unified School District Nutrition Services, San Gorgonio Hospital, St. Kateri passed out water and Loma Linda offered glucose readings.

By the time 5 p.m. came, the line was a few hundred people patiently waiting to get the much-needed backpacks.

They were good-natured and orderly, many joking and having fun while they waited to get their forms. Many parents thanked us for doing this because it was a hardship for them to be able to provide the same amount of supplies for their children. Many smiles were on the faces of the children who selected yellow, purple or black backpacks.

A special thanks to all of our volunteers who worked for two hot weeks preparing and stuffing the backpacks and then came out on Thursday to distribute them and man the food booth.

Deborah, Marva, Yolanda, Heidi, Mary, Merle, and Terry were responsible for us getting this done as well as our youth helpers.

By 8 p.m., the backpacks were out and the vendors packed up to leave, another day done.

We did the drawings on Monday and the winners were drawn.

The two bikes went to Alexia Marquez and Isaac Pitsikos.

The tablets went to Kymburlee West, Kuwie Allen, Damian Chappell and Jordan Reed.

And the gift baskets were awarded to Thomas Del Rio, Talon Bisgaard, and Anarosa Alvarado. The winners were drawn from everyone who completed eight stamps on their cards.

This was a successful event solely because of the contributions of the community.

Thanks so very much to the volunteers, the donors, the vendors and especially the community for making this such a worthwhile community event.

Please excuse anyone I may have inadvertently omitted. You may wonder why we do this. We, the Faith in Action, have seen a need in our community and one by one, we work to fill it.

Sincerely,

Debbie Franklin

Faith in Action

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