Back-to-school program offers free supplies, clothes in east Austin

Manos De Cristo's annual Back-To-School program where children can get school supplies. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)
Manos De Cristo's annual Back-To-School program where children can get school supplies. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Classes for most students don’t start for another month, but some families are getting a head start for the school year.

This week, the nonprofit agency Manos De Cristo is hosting its annual Back-To-School program. The goal is to prepare low-income students for the school year because costs of preparing students to go back to school can be beyond the reach of thousands of low-income families in Central Texas.

“For many of these children, that’s a first time experience, they are used to getting brother or sisters hand me downs or things that are gently used,” said Julie Ballesteros, director of Manos de Cristo.

During the program, students get to pick out a new set of clothing, school supplies including books and pens and a new backpack as well.

For parents like Jose Diaz, he likes to call it Christmas in July for his three children.

“They get something new, you know. Like a present that they can open up,” Diaz said. “We estimated  we are spending roughly $300 in clothes for each kid and at least $100 just in materials.”

The average costs for must-have supplies for elementary students can total nearly $650 and those totals can put a dent in families budget.

“Then if you have three or four or more children, then it becomes unaffordable,” Ballesteros says.

Thanks to donations from the community and hundreds of volunteers, the back-to-school supplies are completely free to families. Giving children some newfound confidence and some new gear to match.

“When a child goes to school, they should be excited, the should want to be there,” Ballesteros said.

When: July 24-28, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 8 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Friday (while supplies last).

Where: Allan Center, 4900 Gonzales St., Austin, TX 78702 (Bus options: #4-Montopolis or #350-Airport Blvd.).

What: Families in need are encouraged to arrive early for the first come, first served, back to school clothing, supplies and dental screenings. Community volunteers will help serve 400 children each day through the program.

Other Back-to-School Drives

 

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