When folks from Long Beach Collective Assn. (LBCA) reached out to the public to collect school supplies, from June 15 to Aug. 15, they had no idea what the reaction would be, especially during a pandemic.

“Honestly, we were not sure of the outcome,” said Pam Chotiswatdi, administrator and community education director for LBCA.

The outcome was big, bigger than they had imagined, which is why LBCA will be giving out 300 backpacks chocked full of supplies to students in Central, North and West Long Beach this Saturday.

Chotiswatdi said help from a partnership with AOC7 Neighborhood Group, which serves the area of Anaheim, Orange, Cherry and 7th streets, enabled her organization not only to collect a lot of supplies but make sure they were collecting what a student would actually need and use.

Courtesy LBCA

“They sent us ideas for dry erase boards and markers, pens and pencils and paper,” said Chotiswatdi. “Before summer, they found many students struggled with sourcing paper at home to complete assignments during school sessions.”

Community organizations helping with Saturday’s distribution include AOC7, West Side community, Starr King Neighborhood Association, College Square Neighborhood Association and Puente Latino Association, with three pick-up events on Saturday at Mark Twain Library, Silverado Park and Pools of Hope Wellness Center, with 100 backpacks given away at each location.

More information can be found on the flyers below:

Families in the AOC7 area in need of school supplies can still register by filling out the form at this link to receive a backpack.

For the distribution by Puente Latino Association, president Hilda Gaytan said there is no registration link as they’re specifically targeting students and families in need that live in the area. The group has been posting flyers around the neighborhood in an effort to reach people that maybe aren’t on social media. However, below, there is more information in a post on the neighborhood association’s Facebook page.


Registration for the West Long Beach distribution is no longer accepting responses, but families in need can contact community leader Veronica Aguilar to possibly still register by calling (562) 508-1757 or emailing [email protected].

Over Labor Day weekend, LBCA volunteers packed the 300 backpacks with supplies, set to go out to the different pick-up locations, which will also include a push for families to fill out the 2020 Census if they haven’t already.

While the nonprofit LBCA’s mission is to advocate for “safe and legal cannabis access through advocacy, education, philanthropy and policy development” with the city and state, a major part of that involves supporting the community it does business in, Chotiswatdi said.

“We feel blessed as an organization and as individuals to be in a position to help our community,” said LBCA board president, Adam Hijazi. “That’s what makes Long Beach so special is the community getting together to tackle challenges. We especially want to thank ACO7 and the various neighborhood associations for making this effort happen.”

Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].