Did You Know, the Lend A Hand Foundation (LAHF) started the first backpack giveaway program in downtown Oakland in 1997 in front of the Henry Robinson Multi-Service Center at the corner of 16th and Clay. In 1997, we provided 200 backpacks that were provided by a great sponsor. Then UPS, another sponsor who has been with LAHF since the beginning, used their expertise by stuffing the backpacks and delivering them to the site. To date, LAHF has provided over 85,000 backpacks and supplies to impoverished children and youth.
Giving of backpacks serves many purposes as it provides a sense of confidence, pride, preparedness, eliminates embarrassment, and relieves parents from bearing, most likely not available, the expense. Again, this August, LAHF and its volunteers will roll up its sleeves to support over 5,000 students attending schools needing support. The supplies will be delivered directly to the schools the sponsors have chosen to support.
Also, this year LAHF will celebrate its 20th Year Anniversary of the Backpack Program along with honoring many who paved the way to reach this milestone. Not only does LAHF provide a backpack program, it also attempts to eliminate as many barriers as possible that keep students from getting to school, participating, and achieving. We want the most fragile youth in our community to experience as many opportunities as possible so they too can thrive.
In December for the past 19 years, LAHF has held a Holiday Celebration for families mostly residing in transitional housing facilities. This event brings much joy to not only those on the receiving end but for all that are involved. Imagine 300+ children/teens, and parents walking into a room with large round tables covered with decorative table cloths, a stage covered with bags of gifts, the aroma of a delicious meal being prepared, entertainment, Santa, and soon as happy dine that almost raises the roof.
Then imagine the tearful thank you from a parent or guardian for helping his/her children have a wonderful Holiday Season –and the ear-to-ear grins as the youth open their gifts and find that their wish lists have become reality. That is the annual LAHF holiday celebration – with the Lend A Hand team right in the middle of it all, encouraging and thanking volunteers, hugging everyone, happy, exhausted, and grateful for all who have responded to their call and have helped turn this annual dream into a reality once again. Some come with a little doubt but they leave with joy and appreciation. An added treat is the clothing give-away room (Holiday Boutique) where guests can help themselves to what they need for their families.
Lend A Hand works diligently to obtain the resources necessary to support as many children, youth, and families that it can. Its first mission of love began at the Henry Robinson helping many in need with the help of great people. Want to join our team, volunteer, and support our causes go to our website (www.lendahandfoundation.org) where you can find out more about what we do and how you can help. Thank you for reading our story!