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Students showered with school supplies, shoes and more

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A family of five was walking back to their car outside Adams Elementary when one little boy stopped in mid-step and asked if he could please sit down and put on the new tennis shoes he had just received.

It is moments like those that have inspired the Mancha family to continue their annual Back to School giveaway. They started by handing out backpacks and school supplies, but now 10 years later, the event has turned into much more.

On August 10, more than 300 people had lined up by 8:00 a.m. to get their hands on all the freebies for school children. Kids received the traditional backpacks and supplies but they were also eligible for a pair of tennis shoes, dental checkups, haircuts, immunizations and information from city, county and health service organizations – all free.

“It feels good because my mom doesn’t have to pay any money and she’s not worried about buying me shoes,” said Christian Ledesma, Schulze Elementary third grader.

A total of 220 pairs of shoes were given out, 78 children received a haircut from students at the Ogle School of Cosmetology & Esthetics, nurses form the University Health System administered 49 immunizations, Brighter Smiles for Kids completed about $40,000 worth of dental work and 500 backpacks stuffed with supplies were handed out.

“I would have had to pay everything out of pocket and being a single mom this helps out a lot,” said Amy Gonzales, mother of two children who attend Stonewall Flanders Elementary or the Fenley Center.

Families also had a chance to give back themselves by donating blood. A total of 15 units were collected which could help save up to 45 lives.

Evelyn Reyna whose son attends Adams Elementary said “It’s a blessing to see how many people are so giving. I think everyone is walking around just being grateful for all this.”

Juan Mancha was elected to the Harlandale ISD School Board as the District 1 representative in May and he currently serves as the Vice President. He, his family and his friends volunteer their time and resources every year.