Backpack Giveaway

8/10/2008 Mendota, CA, USA Hundreds of families lined up in Mendota Sunday morning to pick up free backpacks and school supplies.

Christian Martinez, 3rd grader, says "I got a book of superman with crayons, pencils, coloring book..."

This giant giveaway was made possible by one man determined to help a community in need. Ignacio Gutierrez is a 66 year old immigrant who went from working in the fields to running a successful recycling business.

Sergio Valdez, Fresno Co. Volunteer Firefighter, says "When he first came here he was moving irrigation lines, and he was telling me the story that when he was moving them his boss fired him and told him go pick up cans and bottles, and when you can't feed your family come and talk to me."

Gutierrez now owns three, family run recycling centers across the valley. And he's using his good fortune to help others facing tough times.

Many of these families are struggling because the drought has forced farmers on the Westside to lay off hundreds of workers. That means some parents can't afford simple things like school supplies.

Esmeralda Perez, Mendota parent, says "You'd be surprised, especially, I only have one child of my own, but a lot of families who have more kids, it's a lot of help because they can't provide for all their kids, they're only limited."

Perez says she's extremely grateful for the opportunity that Gutierrez has provided. "I'd like to give thanks because it's the first year my little girl is starting school, so it's exciting for her." And she's not the only one who appreciates his generosity.

This isn't the first time Gutierrez has given back to the community. Last month he donated more than $3,500 worth of pork for Mendota's food giveaway. And he says he plans to keep helping in any way he can.


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