Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis joined Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) Director Antonia Jiménez and DPSS Toy Loan Program staff earlier this week for the annual Backpack & School Supply Giveaway to ensure that over 1,000 children ages 5 through 17 have necessary school supplies.
“We know that it can be costly to prepare a child for school, especially during these challenging times,” Supervisor Solis told reporters prior to the distribution at DPSS Toy Loan Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. “That’s why it’s important that as a county, we do whatever we can to help youth in our communities have the tools they need to be successful in the classroom.”
Solis acknowledged the annual event for its commitment to low-income families in L.A. County, praising the 85-year-old Toy Loan Program for its well-earned reputation as the largest and most successful free toy-lending library program in the nation. The program is sponsored and supported by the Board of Supervisors.
Toy Loan Program was created in 1935 during the Great Depression as a free service to allow low-income children to borrow toys from a DPSS toy-lending library in the same manner that books are borrowed from a public library. The program serves approximately 30,000 children at over 50 toy-lending libraries located at after school programs, community centers, nonprofit organizations and libraries throughout the county.
This year marks the 5th anniversary of the Backpack Giveaway, which serves children from families receiving benefits from DPSS. Due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on the local economy, the event’s host emphasized that this distribution is needed more than ever.
“Our department recognizes the increasing support that children need during this pandemic and we want to ensure they are prepared with the tools necessary for a successful school year, whether it is virtual or in-person” said DPSS Director Antonia Jiménez. “Today’s children are tomorrow’s future. That’s why I believe it’s important that we nurture, prepare and educate our children.”
Observing the requirements to wear masks and social distancing guidelines, participating families remained safely in their vehicles while DPSS Toy Loan staff placed the backpacks in their trunks. For families that indicated they use public transportation, an appointment was made for a contact-free pickup.
All backpacks and school supplies were donated by County of Los Angeles employees, private/corporate donors and through a partnership with Amazon, which allowed online donations by visiting the Toy Loan Program’s Amazon Smile wish list.