You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Manos de Cristo provides school supplies for needy children

Back-to-school season is an exciting time for many students. For some low-income families, it’s also a time of financial burden and stress.

Manos de Cristo’s back-to-school program eases that stress for about 2,000 poor families. The Austin-based 501(c)(3) charity will be giving away supplies to low-income pre-kindergarten to fifth-grade students from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 18 to 20 at Allan Elementary School, 4900 Gonzales St. in East Austin, while supplies last.

The average cost of school supplies for elementary school students is more than $650, according to Manos de Cristo. American Express’ Spending and Saving Tracker reveals that cost can be as high as $1,239, an amount many low-income families can’t afford.

For Cetura Guevara, an unemployed mother of five children, the program is a godsend.

“They give school supplies and even clothing for the uniforms my children need,” said Guevara.

Manos de Cristo, founded in 1988, began this school program about 20 years ago. In Austin, 12 percent of families live in poverty, according to city data.

Guevara has come to the event for three years. “It’s a great help to people like me who need to save money,” she said. “The volunteers are always so nice and entertain the children while we wait.”

Families begin to line up at as early as 3 a.m., a reflection of how much they need these supplies, although organizers discourage bringing children with them so early. Volunteers will help process about 400 children a day, and participants must bring a valid ID and have their child present with them.

“While most children get excited about returning to school, there’s always children who dread it because they don’t feel prepared,” said Julie Ballesteros, executive director of Manos de Cristo. “We want to ensure that all children are eager to return to school.”

Manos de Cristo has focused its efforts on building a better life for children, families and individuals living in poverty. In addition to their school program, the organization also offers help with dental care, educational resources, food and clothing.

“Getting a child ready for school often becomes a financial burden on families who struggle to make ends meet,” said Ballesteros. “Manos (de Cristo) is here to help.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

UPDATE: Seven people hospitalized after new spike in K2 calls
UPDATE: Seven people hospitalized after new spike in K2 calls

Seven people were taken to the hospital over a one-hour period after Austin medics responded to multiple 911 calls regarding people having negative reactions to the synthetic drug K2, also known as Spice, in areas throughout Austin, EMS officials said. In downtown Austin, medics and police have set up a central command post to monitor the situation...
House panel approves $1.6 billion more for public education
House panel approves $1.6 billion more for public education

The House Public Education Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would give public education an extra $1.6 billion over the next two years. Under House Bill 21 filed by Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, most school districts would see a boost but because of the complex school finance system, some would actually see less money. “When I first got elected...
Straus rebuffs effort to introduce transgender bathroom debate
Straus rebuffs effort to introduce transgender bathroom debate

Flexing his parliamentary muscle, House Speaker Joe Straus headed off efforts Tuesday to bring a vote to the House floor on the regulation of the use of bathrooms by transgender people. In a showdown with socially conservative members, Straus ended debate on a bill about the fate of the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas operations...
License-free gun bills draw Capitol crowd
License-free gun bills draw Capitol crowd

More than 100 people signed up Tuesday to speak on two bills that would allow legal gun owners to carry handguns, either concealed or in a holster, without having to first acquire a state-issued license in Texas. All were drawn to the first-ever Capitol hearing granted to a bill that would allow license-free “constitutional carry” &mdash...
Audit finds inconsistent tracking of Austin harassment investigations
Audit finds inconsistent tracking of Austin harassment investigations

Austin lacks consistent standards and training when it comes to investigating claims of harassment, discrimination and retaliation, according to an audit being presented Wednesday to a City Council committee. The review, which examined complaints filed between 2010 and 2015, found harassment complaints are on the rise, even as the city fails to keep...
More Stories