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Woman Determined To Help Less-Fortunate Children Be Better Prepared For School

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Lynda Hall has set a goal of delivering 500 lightly-used backpacks filled with school supplies to homeless and needy children in Santa Cruz County. (Published Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014)

    As any parent knows, it can be tricky negotiating with one's own children. The adult does not always get the better of it.

    "They were like little lawyers," Lynda Hall says of negotiating with her two, pre-teen sons, Joe and Tim.

    Lynda's sons are now in their twenties, but she still fondly recalls one negotiation in particular she lost; because it was the one that lead to the founding 11 years ago of her charity, Lynda and Kidz Backpack Project.

    Lynda's goal this year is to collect, then donate, 500 lightly-used backpacks filled with school supplies to homeless and low-income students in Santa Cruz.

    Lynda Hall plans to collect, then donate, 500 lightly-used backpacks filled with school supplies to homeless and low-income children in Santa Cruz

    "It makes such a difference to them," Lynda says. "The amount of time it takes me is way less the amount of impact it has on them."

    Lynda's charitable endeavor began when her sons were just 10 and 12-years old. They boys wanted new backpacks for the school year even though the ones they already owned were still in good condition. "I said 'Guys, your backpacks are fine. And Momma doesn't have a lot of money," Lynda recalls.

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    She only gave in after one of the boys came up with the idea of donating their old backpacks, filled with school supplies, to the local homeless shelter.

    So the family went to the Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz and offered up their packs. "I said, 'Hey, can you use some backpacks?'" Lynda says the staff was overjoyed to get them.

    Lyda began by donating to the backpacks to Santa Cruz's Rebele Family Shelter, but has now branched out to include the Walnut Avenue Women's Shelter and Elm Street Mission.

    Lynda was so moved she asked friends to help her do the same the following year. They gathered a dozen. Then 24 the year after that. Soon the number was over 100.

    This year's goal of 500 is the largest one yet.

    Lynda says she is motivated to continue by stories she hears from teachers about the plight of some students. One teacher recently told Lynda of two children who brought their school supplies to class in plastic grocery bags.

    "That's heartbreaking," Lynda says. "That just singles them out. Everyone knows they are poor and it's hard."

    Lynda is also motivated by the cards and letters she gets from the children and their parents who get the backpacks. "Dear Nice Person" is how one of the letters starts. Lynda gets choked up reading them, but quickly dries her eyes and gets back to work. She has a lot of backpacks left to collect.