The demographics of the City Heights neighborhood in which we minister can be overwhelming in its scope. In five square miles there is concentrated approximately 70,000 people of incredibly diverse cultures, customs and languages. This is 7 times the population of the average California neighborhood. The crime rate is twice as high as any other San Diego neighborhood despite the fact that it has the highest concentration of police. The school district includes 34 different dialects and ethnic groups with tens of thousands of them poor refugees from the Middle East and Latin American countries. City Heights also is the 2nd largest school district in California and only a 40-60% graduation rate.
The beginning of each school year brings anticipations as well as fears into many children who attend an American school for the first time. The fear of failure, learning English well enough to communicate and do school work, fear of other students, and fear of being totally different than the other students. It’s such a difficult time that many children are slow to register, fail their classes and some resort to anti-social behavior such as drugs and gangs.
However, each year we partner with various churches and organizations in the San Diego county to help ease those fears by providing free backpacks filled with school supplies. This gesture by Christians is marked well by the community and each year the numbers increase. The joys of the parents and children bless the hearts of those who purchase and deliver the backpacks every year. This last month over 300 backpacks were given out on a Saturday morning in the park.
To be in this neighborhood meeting needs of a sturdy backpack and the needed school supplies helps the kids look forward to school a little more. God’s people continue to see needs and meet them as the nations of the world come to America.