Reno's First Christmas in July for School Supplies
If you're the parent of a student, a looming expense is coming your way: school supplies. Here's how the Sheriff and his crew are helping out...
It was a common comment at Reno’s Greater Nevada Field today (Wednesday): a parent picking up one of the new backpacks stacked on tables and saying, "Oh my goodness, these are filled!”
Aces Stadium was stocked with hundreds of new backpacks full of notebooks, markers, rulers, erasers, scissors and hygiene items….and altogether over 5,000 pens and pencils all paid for by AT&T Pioneers. It's called "Christmas in July." Brooke Howard with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office came up with the idea: "The Sheriff and I were talking one day about what we can do to help the kids in our community?"
Nearby, tables of donated new books for summer reading. Hot dogs and sodas. A tropical Santa who told us, "The kids are saying 'thank you Santa, thank you. I've been a good kid and this is very helpful to me.’"
Brooke says getting sponsors to foot the whole bill, was easy: "Actually, the minute you talk about needing stuff for kids and families in need, the community comes together like it usually does and helps out."
School supplies are some of the biggest expenses of the year for families. The National Retail Federation says they spent an average $685 on supplies and clothing last year, which many low-income families can't afford. Families like Felicia Harris’s. She told me “It is very challenging, because school supplies you know, there are some cheap one but when it comes to the backpacks...oh my gosh."
Felicia has 5 kids, including little Roman...sharing early Christmas spirit in the heat of summer: "I like the backpack and I like the flashlight and whistles. Me and my sister got the same thing."
Over 260 selected low-income families like Felicia's were invited...all getting time and pictures with Santa, TV's Daniel Tiger and Washoe County SWAT and K9 team members. This was the first Christmas in July school supply event for local kids. Felicia is thankful, "Because we're in the shelter, the family shelter....hard times you know. But you know we're making it work and I'm just glad they have this opportunity for mothers and families, you know?"
Sheriff Balaam says this was the first of a new yearly event: "Absolutely. This will be a ‘go’ for as long as I'm a part of this organization."