Backpacks for families in motels |

Backpacks for families in motels

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer

For nearly five months, Maria Amador has lived in a motel room with her husband and five children.

“It’s hard, but it’s working,” Maria said. “We’re basically a normal family. We just had some hard times.”

The seven family members know it will take sacrifice to save up enough money to move into an apartment so things like backpacks and glue sticks are overlooked in getting ready for school.

Until Wednesday afternoon.

That’s when a group of volunteers showed up at the motel with backpacks and school supplies for all the children, along with socks and underwear.

“I have a couple of notebooks and some pencils, but this stuff is exactly what I need, especially the binder,” said Michael, 13. “I’m set.”

Kim Riggs, director of Carson City School District’s Children in Transition program, spoke with managers at each of the motels and asked them to send out all school-age children.

At first, doors opened tentatively. A couple of tiny heads popped out then retreated back inside. Finally, 4-year-old Uraiah descended the stairs and approached the official white van.

“This is cool,” he exclaimed as he looked inside the backpack offered to him. “I got two of these,” he said, holding up a glue stick in each hand.

Following his lead, his siblings and other children living in the motel gathered to receive their packs donated by Costco.

Inside they found a binder, paper, pencil bag, bookmark and an assortment of snacks.

The supplies got 7-year-old Serenity thinking about returning to school.

“I like school,” she said. “We get to go to centers and go and play and write a lot. I’m going to carry a lot of stuff in my backpack.”

The Children in Transition program serves students living in hotels, motels, campgrounds or doubling up with other families.

Riggs advertised for families meeting the criteria to pick up backpacks Tuesday at the Salvation Army. But she also visited the motels to find any students who were missed.

“I’m afraid a lot of people don’t read the newspaper and don’t know about the service,” she said. “When I come here, I can find every child who needs help. We want every child to start school with a backpack, just like all the other children.”

As she collected her supplies to leave, a chorus of thank-yous rang out.

“This is such a good thing,” Maria said.