As families ready themselves for the return of the school year, students across Merced County are making their way to local events that are helping youngsters start the next chapter of their academic career off on the right foot.
With that goal in mind, the Tsunami Collaboration Inc. once again held its annual Kids Day event last Friday.
Hundreds of families gathered outside of the doors of the Merced County Boys and Girls Club in Merced in anticipation of the three-hour event. They were greeted with a table featuring hundreds and hundreds of backpacks. Students were able to take their pick of their favorite colors and designs.
Dozens of local organizations took part in the event, providing items ranging from notebooks and pencils to reading books and educational games.
The Kids Day event began in 2015 with vision from Tsunami founder Sue Emanivong. That first year, Emanivong and local volunteers worked to give away 25 backpacks that Emanivong personally purchased as a way to give back to the community.
“Through sweat equity and building relationships with individuals and organizations in Merced County, I was able to raise enough to gather 1,000 backpacks for 2022. I can always count on Assemblymember Adam Gray, the United Way and MCOE for their support,” Emanivong explained. “I knew that I didn’t want to turn any students away because there were years that we just didn’t have enough. I just knew that I had to make sure that I had enough backpacks, and one of the goals was 1,000.
Emanivong said 700 backpacks were given out during the Kids Day event, and the group has organized with schools throughout Merced County to deliver the remaining 300 backpacks directly to teachers and classrooms. Each backpack handed out also came full of supplies, ensuring that each student can have a strong start in the first weeks of their school year.
Event sponsors this year were Assemblymember Adam Gray, Central Valley Community Foundation, Merced College, United Way of Merced County, MCOE, and the Boys and Girls Club. Partnerships included Healthy House, Cen Cal Youth Sports and The Lions Club.
Said Emanivong, “I couldn’t do this without the countless volunteers, especially Tiffany Eggleston who had to do this event by herself in 2021 because of Covid. It’s important to have all the support of people with the same vision to make things a reality.” Emanivong went onto to note that the help of See Lee with the Boys and Girls Club of Merced County in ensured that this year’s event was a success.