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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Our Neighborhood

Underprivileged Kids Get Free Clothes and Supplies at Annual Giveaway

The Fred Jordan Mission hosted its 27th annual "Caring for Kids" giveaway event today on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles. Find out more about what the giveaway meant for local children and their families.

It was a hot, sticky morning Thursday on Skid Row, but the rising sun was a relief to the thousands of people waiting in line.

After being questioned about how long she had been waiting, local sixth-grader Nicole Marquinez replied, "I don't know," she said, exasperated, "because I got here yesterday at 9 in the morning."

Nicole and her family weren't alone. Some had been waiting since 5 a.m. Wednesday for the 9 a.m. Thursday opening of the "Caring for Kids" annual giveaway. Fred Jordan Mission has hosted the giveaway for the last 27 years. This year, sponsors include Foot Locker and In 'N Out, and kids will get free shoes, clothes, backpacks, hygeine kits with basic supplies like toothbrushes and shampoo, and fresh burgers from the famous California chain.

President of the mission, Willie Jordan, said she loves seeing the kids' faces as she walks up and down the long line of visitors.

"To see the anticipation," she said, "they can't believe it. It's like magic."

Magic, indeed, for the many kids like Nicole who don't normally have access to new clothes and shoes.

"Sometimes we don't have enough [money] to buy two things at once, so we have to buy one thing and leave the other one at the store," she said.

Nearby, another young girl, Saleen Aguilar, chimed in. She had been waiting over 24 hours.

"My stepdad has been struggling with work," she said, "[this event] helps my family by saving money that they have to have to afford the food and the bills."

When the line finally began moving, anxious families started to run with excitement toward the tents of free food and clothes.

Kids moved from tent to tent, being sized fro their shoes, picking out clothing, filling backpacks with notebooks, passed by the In 'N Out truck, and finally, plopping down at the Paul Mitchell hair salon tent for a fresh 'do.

Hundreds of volunteers helped the event run smoothly, and were overwhelmed by the good feelings that followed.

"It's a blessing to see the children's smiling faces," said Patrick Booker, a volunteer for the Fred Jordan Mission, "most of the people here are low-income, and this is just a way of getting what they need for their children."

The estimated 4,000 people who came out got what they needed, and then some.

"I wanted the Jordans so bad, and I got what I wanted," Nicole exclaimed after being handed her new shoes, "and the color I wanted, too!"

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