They’ll Start School Year With a Smile
Church provides kids with supplies, style for some a sprint, for others a marathon, as kids and parents negotiate hemlines and budgets, and both practice their scavenger-hunting skills for No. 2 pencils by the dozen.
But at a bright church hall in City Heights Saturday morning, there was none of that. Just 200 grateful children receiving backpacks stuffed with donated school supplies as part of the Back 2 School Bash, a program put on by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church that equips refugee and low-income children for the classroom.
City Heights is a dense, urban neighborhood where refugees and immigrants from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds share close quarters. Many of these resettled families have little or no income, and starting school with all the necessary supplies would be a challenge.
As soon as they walked into the church hall, the children had professional portraits taken. They also received new shoes, socks and underwear donated by parishioners from about 15 Episcopal churches around San Diego County, said Heather Smith, the ministries coordinator at St. Mark’s. About 70 volunteers helped pull off the event by filling backpacks with supplies, matching shoes with little feet, playing games, and serving lunch (a mix of international barbecued meats, fruits and lemonade).
Eh Dah Moo is a Karen refugee, part of a Burmese ethnic minority displaced by civil war there. She came to San Diego from Burma via Thailand when she was 6, leaving behind a hillside refugee camp where she remembers playing, and a birth land she has long forgotten.
Eh Dah is 12 now, and looking very much the San Diegan in an orange Chargers T-shirt and spunky bangs. In a few weeks she’ll start middle school at Horace Mann, and she picked up new shoes and a backpack with the help of a volunteer.
For whoever wanted a haircut, stylists were on hand to give the children the hottest looks of the season. For the girls, the favored style was long layers. For the boys, the “it” look was micro bangs, which leaves a thin line of very short hair on the forehead. After Tar Wha, 18, entering his senior year at Crawford High School, asked for that style, a flock of boys half his age copied him.
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