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Families camp out overnight on skid row for school clothes giveaway

Six months ago, Maria Aguilar gathered up her three children and left the man who for years had physically abused her. Now, she says, she doesn't have the money to buy new school clothes or shoes for her children.

But she had heard about the annual back-to-school giveaway at the Fred Jordan Mission in Downtown L.A. So on Wednesday evening, she and her kids traveled from their home in Koreatown to skid row, where they camped out on the street for this morning's event.

"I feel happy," Aguilar said Wednesday evening. "I'm glad there's a place where we can get help."

The giveaway has helped more than 100,000 impoverished children and their families for 20 years. The annual event, now in its 21st year, is among seven giveaways the mission organizes each year, including Christmas toy drives and Thanksgiving meals, according to its website.

Starting at 9:30 this morning, hundreds of children will receive athletic shoes and socks provided by Foot Locker. About 60 Foot Locker volunteers will be on hand to ensure each child is custom-fitted, organizers said. Three hundred volunteers will distribute backpacks, hygiene products and other items. Children will receive free haircuts and lunch.

"Foot Locker is proud once again to be part of the Fred Jordan Mission's Back-to-School Giveaway program," said Keith Daly, president and CEO of Foot Locker. "This year marks our 21st year of donating more than 100,000 pairs of athletic shoes and socks to children in need within the Los Angeles Community."

Julio De Los Reyes, 10, who attends 75th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, said Wednesday he was looking forward to receiving shoes and school supplies. His brother, Kevin, 4, said he was looking forward to everything.

"I want the whole thing," Kevin said.

But some may miss out on receiving some items. Organizers said they have seen a 30% increase in the crowd this year.

"There's more and more people turning for help," said Tom Jordan, executive vice president for the Fred Jordan Mission.

"Our goal is, of course, that everyone will be served, but there might be some items, though, we might run out of," Jordan said. "If we run out of things at this event, it will be the first time in the history of the event."

The nonprofit, faith-based Fred Jordan Mission on Towne Street has been feeding the hungry and providing assistance to impoverished families since 1944.

--Ruben Vives

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Comments () | Archives (20)

First I would like to thank the Fred Jordan Mission for all of their efforts.Their is nothing wrong with giving help to the needy.But the majority of the people standing in that line this morning should get their priorities together.Do you really need a cell phone? or do you need clothes for your kids?

Great work by this org: Keep it up.
Its too bad that our Gov. can spend almost $1 trillion on a WAR in IRAQ who did not attack the US. Imagine the number shoes and school stuff including new schools we could supply and build with $1 trillion Instead we spend that $1 trillion killing thousands of people including our troops in this senseless war. Our priorities are back to front...

Many thanks to the Fred Jordan Mission and Foot Locker for showing these children much-needed kindness. I'm sure they will never forget it, and knowing that people care could change their lives.

gemjyor, I understand that point that you are making, but many people these days have only a cell phone and no house phone/land line. Hopefully the people you saw were just carrying a basic phone and not an iphone or something, but a phone is a necessity if one is trying to get/keep a job, not to mention for personal safety, being reachable by their kids' schools, making doctor appointments, etc.

I don't mean to be a Scrooge here, but if you can't afford shoes for your kids, maybe you shouldn't be having any.

Ughh.. I feel bad now after reading this. I just spent $500 on unnecessary clothing at Saks and Nordstrom. I'd like to donate some of my unused clothing to them, but as a 27 y.o., my clothes might not fit them :( Any other solutions?

Why aren't those kids in school?

More free stuff for illegals!!!!
No real needy kids there, all overweight with the fast food Taco frenzy. I'm sick and tired of this city. Way to go Fred Jordan Mission.

If the rich liberals of Hollywood are so liberal why is Californian in so much debt and why are these people begging? It looks like they are conservative when giving and liberal when receiving.

Anybody else wondering why the kids aren't in school?

Or why they're all Mexicans?

Or how they can afford cellphones and not clothes?

No wonder there's a 50% dropout rate.

I mean, it's nice of the folks to do it, but something's fundamentally wrong here folks.

why couldn't this activity be organized another day? Do the organizers realize these kids missed school today? great so the schools get less money because hundreds of them decided to be there!

A very refreshing read. I hope these children had a wonderful day. They deserve it.

shanti~ shame on you. Just because a person possesses a Spanish surname does not mean they are undocumented. Also, lighten up - it was for underprivileged kids. And kids are deserving of attention and our love regardless of their skin color, creed, or citizenship status. Hate is no bueno, amigo. :)

@Legitimate Question:
I was wondering the same thing! I understand the need for this service, but some of these people have been in line for days...shouldn't the kids be in school?

why was there no one from city hall there they like to give alway oure money to unions and special interest
i am sure they can come out some money from the city general fund , they do it for junk events all over los angeles
the mayor can talk about his good green jobs
and how los angeles is a word class city

Fred Jordan misson..You are doing what you believe is right. having stated that, most of those people are not really in need, They spend their monies elsewhere when they know they can count of you. The freebies for those who choose to be lazy and live off the system must be stopped..

I know that the mission is not in that posituion to decide that, but something must be done. The scammers are out numbering those who have to pick up the tab.

As I read this article I felt sad and happy for these kids and then I read the comments full of hate. I can't help but feel like crying. What is wrong with you people?

Thank you Fred Jordan Mission for not caring what color or background these children are- because that's all that matters- that they are children and deserve a better life, even if it means a new pair of shoes.

Susana Benavidez

My name is Roxanne Garcia and i was theyre today helping from Paul Michell school. I cant believe what i am reading i literally have tears in my eyes reading some of ur disgusting comments. U have to be highly uneducated and partially retarded to still have these beliefs. The fact is that we helped many children in need and you have no idea what those families and children go through on a daily basis. Do youself a favor and dont speak on something u havn't been through especially if you cant relate personally. PS.I AM VERY PROUD OF WHAT WE DID TODAY..

Roxanne, thank you for giving your time yesterday! Please ignore the hateful comments - it is heartbreaking the cruel things people will say from behind their computers, but know that there are many more people out there who are grateful for the efforts of all of the volunteers. I'm sure that you saw first-hand how appreciative these families are, and your kindness may literally have changed lives. Bless you!

I am sorry to hear so much jaded talk...this is all about the children, and putting shoes on their feet. Not about the parents who are unable to do so or the reasons why. The children are there, they need shoes, a sponsor (Footlocker) is providing for them...it did not cost you anything and they were not begging, they were offered...from people with big hearts and generosity. Hope none of you ever find yourselves, your children...or even their children ina situation where you NEED a pair of shoes...but if you do at least you know where once a year you could get one single pair of shoes each. )Personally i shop at Footlocker specificly because they do charitable events like this one...and will continue to do so.

P.S. I dont know why Ruben Vives even let people post those racist remarks about poor innocent children who are not here to defend themselves...i am ashamed for his lack of judgement and appologise upon his behalf to those he has hurt, through his lack of morals that most of us would use when the subject matter is about a minor child.

But why aren't the kids in school? It really is great that there are still generous people in the city, but there are many children who didn't get new shoes because their families decided that a days education was more important. If they were to go to the schools and help THOSE children I would feel better about the story.


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