San Mateo's Samaritan House donates 3,500 backpacks to families in need

The new school year is right around the corner in the Bay Area. And, for some families, that could bring a level of mixed emotions.

"Very anxious as a mom," said Marietza Ochoa, a mother of four.

To help ease those anxieties, the Samaritan House, a local non-profit aimed at helping families out of poverty, held its annual backpack donation drive on Saturday. The organization gave out 3,500 backpacks full of school supplies to 1,000 families in San Mateo County.

"We get the word from the school district as to what they need in each grade level," said Bart Charlow, CEO of Samaritan House. "These will be grade appropriate supplies, whether it's pencils or a calculator for a high school kid. Whatever it is, it's there."

Organizers call the drive important, especially after two years of the pandemic and a year of rising inflation rates.

"With all the prices going up, school supplies and everything the kids will need, this alleviated a lot from my wallet," said Ochoa.

"I see a thousand cars a week, you know, go through for our pantry foods for example, new people signing up everyday," said Charlow. "It's pretty apparent to us that the need is there."