With four children of her own and one nephew, Maria Granados usually has a lengthy list of items to purchase for the new school year.
She buys school supplies little-by-little as the weeks go by to avoid a large hit to her finances at one time, she said. But this year, Ganados attended Mission CISD’s Back to School Bash where she was able to get the children backpacks and school supplies for free.
“Oh, this helps me a whole lot because seeing that I have so many little ones, it’s hard,” Granados said. “And then I’m not working, so this helps me big time. It’s more money now that I can use to buy them clothes and shoes.”
For the second year, MCISD has partnered with other entities in the community, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Boys and Girls Club, to provide free school supplies to the students of Mission CISD.
The district gave away 2,474 backpacks with school supplies, which is 400 more than last year. Most of the backpacks were given out within the first hour and a half, according MCISD spokesman Craig Verley, and some schools were even offering free books. All supplies were acquired by donation and no district funds were used.
In addition, the Mission Lions Club offered free eye exams, and other medical professionals offered immunizations and sports physicals for a cheaper price. Students from both Mission High and Veterans Memorial cosmetology classes also gave free haircuts to the students.
The bash began at 6 p.m. on Aug. 7 at Veterans Memorial High, but the first person secured their place in line at 1 p.m., according to Alton Elementary Principal Adan Ramirez. When he arrived at 4 p.m., the parking lot was already full and cars overflowed into the neighborhoods across from campus.
“Not every student is excited the first day of school because that means hardships,” Superintendent Ricardo Lopez said. “They’re not able to have the school supplies to bring in the new year, so this is an event to welcome them with open arms.”
According to Lopez, the backpacks they gave away would range anywhere from $20 to $30. The supplies, which included paper, pencils, pens and folders, can cost a parent about $50, depending how many children they have and if they hit the sales.
“It’s hard, but I have to do it because my kids need it,” Ganados said. “It takes its toll whenever this time of year comes around, but I’m really grateful for this because this is helping me a lot this year.”
In the cosmetology lab, 150 people, including a wait list, had already signed up for a haircut within the first hour. MCISD cosmetology instructors Carina Cuevas and Irma Bazan said about 50 students were cutting hair and helping out around the facility.
“It’s beneficial to our students because they get to see the chaos and fun in the salon and we also get to give back to the community as well,” Cuevas said. “The students feel like it’s very rewarding and they get really excited about working with other kids as well, and that’s different from the classroom experience.”
Mission CISD also had its high school fine arts students performing throughout the event. The superintendent said the performances were to not only highlight the programs but to give the younger students something to aspire to.
“We want all our children to be as excited as they can be about school on the first day,” Lopez said. “We want them to feel prepared and this is a good way to let them know that we care about them.”