Back to school in Torrance

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Operation Backpack assists hundreds of chldren with school supplies and clothes.

Photo by Julio Vasquez

Six hundred children received a backpack filled with school supplies and a clothing voucher, thanks to The Salvation Army of Torrance, which continued its tradition of helping prepare kids for school with “Operation Backpack.”

One 7-year-old boy, waiting in line outside Army’s Family Store in Torrance, excitedly asked his mother, “When are we going in, mom?” as he peeked through the window to watch the volunteers placing the backpacks on tables.

For the last 18 years, the Torrance Salvation Army, in partnership with the Long Beach Adult Rehabilitation Center, has provided this outreach. Contributing to the event’s success were numerous sponsors—churches and other groups/individuals—including Southwest Synod, First Baptist Church of Torrance, First Methodist Church of Torrance, Disciples Women of First Christian Church, Coast Christian Fellowship, Association of Torrance School Administration, American Bookkeeping Service, Girl Scouts Greater L.A. Troop 3785, Torrance Council of PTAs and the Torrance Teachers Association.

One mother said that this year had been difficult—she had lost her job, and she and her husband were struggling, unable to afford school supplies for their two children. She hugged David Risher, Torrance social service director, and thanked Major Julio Vasquez, corps officer, for this “blessing.”

Several volunteers filled the backpacks with notebooks, pencils, erasers, markers, crayons and rulers; parents received the clothing voucher—redeemable for school uniforms or winter clothes—and a copy of War Cry magazine.

A Torrance PTA member present at the distribution expressed how important the backpacks and supplies are for both the parents and the children, noting that the PTA is glad to be part of this great community project.

After the distribution, that 7-year-old boy left the store with a big smile, carrying the pack on his back and holding a bag with a uniform shirt in it; his mother carried a bag with jackets. As they passed by the checkout table, the little boy shouted, “Bye Salvation Army—thank you!” That gave the volunteers and Salvation Army staff a laugh and reaffirmed that assisting these families is part of what The Salvation Army is all about.

Major Julio Vasquez
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