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Thousands of kids get needed supplies at back to school drive

PHOENIX — Thousands of kids in the Valley will be going back to school with nearly everything they need thanks to a major clothing drive.

The 18th annual Back to School Clothing Drive began distributing supplies to under-privileged kids Monday at Alhambra High School near 38th Avenue and Camelback Road.

“We’re going to be able to distribute over $2 million in brand new school uniforms, outfits, backpacks and school supplies for kids throughout this Valley,” said Karl Gentles, executive director of Back to School Clothing Drive.

Gentles said the organization works year-round to afford the supplies. He estimated there will be about 5,000 kids showing up to get supplies.

“The kids get paired up with a personal shopper and then they go from department to department,” he said. “They go to the shoe department, socks and underwear, belts, they go to a learning zone, (and) they go to the backpack department,” he said. “All those things they go to with a personal shopper.”

Many of the kids that attend the drive have never had new clothes or school supplies, and Gentles said receiving these supplies has a huge impact on the kids.

“For many of these kids, these are the first new items that they might own,” Gentles said. “We’ve had stories over the years with kids where these are the first books they’ve every owned, we’ve had kids that have come in with the same shoes from the year before, (and) we’ve had kids that have never owned their own toothbrush.”

This week’s drive is by preregistration only Gentles said. It runs through Friday.