Remember the feeling of throwing on a brand-new backpack stuffed with fresh notebooks, colored pencils, and that untouched pink eraser you prolonged using? For most of us, it’s one of those small but magical parts of childhood that marks the start of a new school year.

Thanks to our partnership between United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Pico Union Project (PUP), 250 kids from low-income families in the Pico-Union area got to feel that same magic. Each kid received a brand-new backpack just in time for the first day of school!

None of this would’ve been possible without our friends stepping up when called on. Big shoutout to our generous sponsors, FedEx, Enterprise, AAA-The Auto Club Group, Adamson Ahdoot LLP, City National Bank, HOK, Big Sunday, the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, and Dollar Days.

And let’s not forget the 30 rockstar volunteers from our corporate partners who spent their Saturday morning in PUP’s parking lot putting together those backpacks. They didn’t just stuff them with supplies; they filled them with books and other essentials, handing them off to grateful parents and guardians lined up and ready to go.

Sarah Geske showed up to volunteer that morning along with other colleagues from HOK because she believes the best thing we have as a community is each other, especially when it comes to supporting children’s education.

“Having the necessary resources gives kids a great foundation to succeed in their education and support their growth and learning,” Geske said.

Sarah Geske and Rachel Perez (from left) and other colleagues volunteered at the Back to School event at Pico Union Project.

Rachel Perez didn’t want to miss the opportunity to give back and support United Way L.A. because she is grateful for the financial assistance she received from the organization to help pay for the childcare of her two children.

“At that time, my husband was an artist, and we struggled so that assistance helped me grow in my career, and that’s why I’m really thankful to United Way, and I wanted to give back,” said Perez, who also donates to United Way through her workplace. She learned about this opportunity and came to volunteer with other colleagues from City National Bank.

Roger Hernandez also joined his colleagues from FedEx, which donated part of the school supplies, to volunteer because this community is within his work area, so he didn’t think twice when it was time to give back.

“This community feels like home to me because my drivers service this area, and because as a Latino, I grew up in a community similar to this one, so my heart is in giving back to communities like this,” he said. Also, as a parent, he said he was excited to see those kids starting the school year having what they need to succeed in school. “I see them and I see my own kids. I just wish them all the best.”

United Way is proud to partner with corporations, amazing individuals, and community partners across Los Angeles to provide relief for neighbors who need essentials like back-to-school resources. We can do more together than alone. That’s why people turn to the United Way of LA when they see a problem like economic hardship or housing instability and want to help. We bring neighbors and dollars together to protect each other in a crisis and build a future where every community can share in our region’s prosperity.

To learn more about our volunteer opportunities and how your donations can make an impact click here.


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