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Needy kids get new school supplies

October 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hundreds of families camped out overnight in downtown Los Angeles to get their children free school supplies.The line was several blocks long Thursday morning as the Fred Jordan Mission hosted its 21st annual Back-to-School Giveaway to help thousands of homeless and underprivileged children. But this year the need on Skid Row is greater than usual.

"We have families coming to us this year who a couple of years ago helped us give to other poor people, and this year they've lost their jobs and, you know, when the economy turned down it's the working poor, unskilled who lose their jobs first," said Willie Jordan, president of the Fred Jordan Mission.

People started camping out on Monday and by the time the giveaway began around 5,000 kids and adults were in a line stretching around three blocks.

More than 4,000 new athletic shoes and socks donated by Foot Locker were given to the children in need. Other donors are giving new clothes and backpacks filled with school supplies.

"It means a lot because in this economy our parents don't have that much money to provide us with new shoes so it means a lot, especially for the little kids. They're more excited than us," said Karina Montes.

Even though the mission's donations are down this year by 30 percent , Willie Jordan and the many families in need are grateful for whatever they can get.

"Things that we can't do right now like haircuts, new school shoes," said Christine Vargas. "We needed this year so we appreciate that they do this for us."

About 300 volunteers were on hand to distribute clothing, backpacks, school supplies and hygiene products.

The children were also given free haircuts and lunch.

With so many people in need the mission was concerned it wouldn't have enough shoes for everyone. But organizers say everyone is going home with something, and hopefully it will be just what they need.

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