Miranda

Lillian Miranda receives vouchers at the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Omaha’s Back-to-School Basics Giveaway on Saturday at Holy Family Catholic Church, 1715 Izard St.

Families lined up at Holy Family Catholic Church as early as 6 a.m. Saturday , with a line stretching around the block by 9 a.m. when the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Omaha’s annual Back-to-School Basics Giveaway began.

Lillian Miranda of Omaha lined up at about 7 a.m. She has attended the event for the last three years. Miranda said it’s a great help for her and her three daughters — Emma, Raquel and Cristina — before school starts.

“We also have a lot of medical bills that we have to pay, and this is a blessing,” she said. “Literally, it’s like $60 falling from the sky.”

St. Vincent partners with Goodfellows, The World-Herald’s charity, to provide families with vouchers to purchase socks, underwear and other back-to-school clothing. Each child receives a $20 voucher, redeemable at two Target locations.

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Volunteers handed out the vouchers at Holy Family, 1715 Izard St. St. Vincent organizes the event, and Goodfellows provides $20,000 in funding.

Bonnie Beacom, the program’s coordinator, said this year’s event helped 336 families and 1,154 students — 154 more than usual.

Goodfellows has partnered with the program for several years. The charity helps metro-area families in one of three ways during the year: one-time emergency financial assistance, vouchers to purchase a child’s clothing and vouchers for holiday meal groceries.

“We do a lot of the work (for this event), but having the resources to distribute to the community, that’s where they come in,” Beacom said of Goodfellows. “It’s the donations that people make that allow us to respend where the needs are in the community.”

Beacom said St. Vincent works with both Target locations to track how many vouchers are spent. Whatever isn’t spent will be used to purchase diapers for the society’s food pantry.

Marty Smith, St. Vincent de Paul’s executive director, said this was the first year the events had a whole group of former volunteers working.

“I do think that certain events develop that sort of cache where ‘This is what we do every year,’ ” he said. “So obviously the people who are volunteers get a lot out of it as well.”

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