“Just to have a case of pencils is amazing. It’s just so hard keeping your head above water.”
As Franco milled about the 100 backpacks that lined the steps of the YWCA on Tuesday afternoon, Shakeh Ghazaryan beamed about the donations streaming in from the Jewel City Kiwanis Club.
Ghazaryan, the volunteer coordinator for the YWCA, said donations such as the backpacks filled with granola bars, toothpaste, blankets and toys are especially salient given the financial standing of mothers who may lack a reliable source of income, especially those who continually return to the shelter.
The backpacks were intended for children of abused mothers living at the YWCA, where officials have said supplies are limited.
“Usually most women come back because of their financial situation,” she said. “That’s why this helps so much. I can just imagine the smiles on these kids’ faces when they see these bags.”
The kids were not the only ones smiling Tuesday.
Rich Jessup, a Jewel City Kiwanis Club member who organized the drive with help from other club members, said the time spent asking for donations, culling supplies and stuffing the backpacks was well worth the long hours and manual labor.
“I just thought this was a nice thing to do,” he said.
Jessup was joined by Tom Hillo, a former past president of the Jewel City Kiwanis Club who helped unload packs Tuesday.
Hillo said taking part in the donation drive offered him a fresh perspective on domestic abuse, an issue he had not been intimately familiar with.
“This is such a great cause,” Hillo said.
“[Abuse] is a very unfortunate thing that happens in our society, and it shouldn’t. This just sends chills down my spine.”
Franco felt the same way as she sat near the packs on the YWCA steps with tears streaming down her cheeks.
Franco said she found refuge in Glendale, where she insists that such donations are not handouts. Instead, she views each gift as a small means to help her family once again achieve independence.
“This may seem insignificant to others,” she said, pointing to the backpacks. “But to us, it’s amazing.”