Tracy Interfaith Ministries, 311 W. Grant Line Road, is accepting supplies for its annual back-to-school effort, which supports an estimated 700 to 800 students, according to Interfaith director Darlene Quinn.
She said backpacks designed for middle and high school-aged students should be single-colored. Quinn noted that red and blue backpacks will not be accepted, because they are prominent gang colors in Tracy.
Interfaith hopes to collect about 600 backpacks, Quinn said. Donations — such as binders, wide-ruled and college-ruled notebook paper, spiral notebooks, folders, erasers and glue sticks — collected by Interfaith will fill the backpacks.
“We have a lot of kids that count on us to get these to them,” Quinn said. “Every year it seems like it can get harder and harder to meet the need.”
This year is particularly difficult, because Interfaith’s main supporter of the backpack drive, the Salvation Army, isn’t helping because of shortfalls on its own donations and supplies.
Interfaith is being forced to purchase about 300 backpacks — which Quinn noted cost about $10 each — using funds the organization collected while operating a fireworks booth in Tracy this year.
“It’s not something we want to do,” Quinn said, “but this is all some people have so we need try our best to keep helping. We are faith-based, so we put our faith in the man upstairs, and he usually helps us come through.”
Donors can drop off supplies at Interfaith from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 21 and July 28, when volunteers will be available to accept the donations, Quinn said. But donors can drop off goods any time on weekdays during those hours.
The backpacks will be distributed July 30 — two weeks before the school year begins.
Backpacks filled with school supplies will also be offered to families with school-aged children when they ask Interfaith for food.
“There are so many people that come here for food and clothing anyway, so we want to make sure we can get them a backpack when they come,” Quinn said. “A lot of people come every other week, so we’re going to do this for a couple weeks so we can catch all of our clients.”
For information: tracyinterfaith.org or 836-5424
• Editor's note: This article was corrected from an earlier version.