As the back-to-school season commences, a number of Santa Clarita Valley organizations have come together to bring joy, positivity and community engagement to students in the form of “peace bags.”
“A huge credit for this initially goes to Renee Marshall, who is an education consultant and does a ton of work with local schools, as well as the (SCV) Education Foundation,” said Susan Christopher, executive director of LoveSCV. “She actually came across this in another town, and it was just such a great, positive movement that really brought families together, it met all the criteria for kids of all ages.”
Marshall decided to bring the idea to the SCV, enlisting the help of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV, JCI Santa Clarita, LoveSCV and the city of Santa Clarita, among other community sponsors.
“Each peace bag has been created with intention and love,” Marshall said in a prepared statement. “We want to make sure SCV youth and teens have fun, free, engaging activities that will promote both physical and mental health.”
Students, ages 5-18, are all invited to attend the drive-thru peace bag pickup events, each of which includes activity bags filled with fun, hands-on activities that will foster positive community engagement and provide social-emotional support, able to reach each age and development level, according to event organizers.
“2020 continues to be a challenging year for everyone,” Matt Nelson, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV, added in the statement. “We are glad to have the opportunity to collaborate with others in the community to provide local families with a little extra support.”
The pickup events are scheduled to continue for three weeks, with special sponsors, such as Panda Express, which contributed free meals and books, UCLA Health, California Credit Union, Stay Green Inc. and Castaic Dollar Tree, providing extra free goodies at each one.
“It’s been really neat to see so many organizations and community businesses working together, but also see something so positive and fun come back for the students, especially as their school year’s getting ready to start,” Christopher added.
Peace bag giveaways are scheduled 5-7 p.m. on Thursdays, beginning this week. The first is set to be at the Boys & Girls Club of SCV’s Newhall Clubhouse, located at 24909 Newhall Ave., and includes Panda Express meals for the first 250 participants. The Aug. 13 event is set to be near the former Sears location at Westfield Valencia Town Center, located at 24137 Valencia Blvd., and includes back-to-school supplies. The Aug. 20 event is set to be at the Boys & Girls Club of SCV’s Sierra Vista Clubhouse in Canyon Country, located at 19420 Stillmore St.
School supplies and peace bags are also expected to be given to school-site resource centers in the Newhall, Sulphur Springs and William S. Hart Union school districts, along with additional distribution in Castaic.