Teachers, parents get free school supplies at drive-thru event in San Bernardino

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- As schools get closer to reopening across Southern California, volunteers and local leaders took it upon themselves on Saturday to help teachers get prepared.

The Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy organized a drive-thru teacher appreciation giveaway in San Bernardino, handing out free school supplies to 800 educators as well as parents who are helping their kids learn at home.

"We're here to support the community with our parents because our parents are the teachers currently. So, we are hoping that some of these supplies will help them and give them that extra encouragement to help their kids at home," said Maribel Lopez-Tyus, principal of Excelsior Charter School.

Volunteers filled bags containing notebooks, binders and other supplies, by grades.

Tee Mullin teaches English as a Second Language in Riverside. Next week, the school district will welcome back students in kindergarten through second grade.

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"I'm very nervous, but at the same time, I'm ready to get back into the classroom. I'm more of an inside classroom teacher," she said.

It's been almost a year since the pandemic shut down schools in California. Many educators at Saturday's even said they are ready to get back to the classroom and the supplies will help.

"I know a lot of parents are still concerned about coming back and that's okay, but I have always wanted to be in the classroom. Absolutely 100%. I cannot wait to go back," said fourth grade teacher Chalone Huegens.

Congressman Pete Aguilar was also on hand volunteering with his two children. He touted President Biden's American Rescue Plan, which provides $130 billion to help schools return to in-person learning.

"We respect the local control of the school districts making those decisions. I think, from the federal perspective, we just want to ensure that lack of resources is not a reason for them not to open up."

Whether for remote or in-person learning, organizers said the supplies handed out were intended to help students and their parents navigate a school year unlike any other.

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Little by little, students in the Inland Empire are returning to classrooms.

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