Palomar Health Staff Helping Kids Start School on the Right Foot


The first day of school is an exciting time for many elementary school kids – meeting new teachers, connecting with old friends, and showing off that summer tan. However, it can be an anxious and embarrassing moment for kids who can’t afford school supplies. Showing up without a shiny new backpack, pencil box, and crayons is not the kind of first impression most kids want to make. 

With that in mind, the Palomar Health Home Health department under the inspiration of Staffing Secretary Tamika Renteria collected school supplies for kids at Escondido’s Lincoln Elementary School. Tamika chose Lincoln based on need; 94% of the students qualify for the free or reduced lunch program.

“The response from staff has been amazing,” Tamika said. “Every day they would come and look at the progress…they were so into it.”

The empty cubicle space next to Tamika’s work space was filled with donations consisting of backpacks, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, glue sticks, notebooks, binders, scissors, and more. 

“It’s a great cause,” commented Palomar Health Home Health Director Joe Parker. “Tamika personalized it by sharing individual stories.”

Those stories were cultivated by raising now 20 and 15-year-old daughters who have a tendency to befriend kids in need. She’s taken in homeless youth and she’s bought shoes and clothing for her kids’ friends. 

“When I buy my kids school supplies, I buy for some of their friends as well,” Tamika said.

Tamika discovered her friend, Horatio Lewis, was doing the same.

Growing up Horatio says, “I always had what I needed to succeed.” Now retired from the Army, Horatio decided to start the non-profit foundation, SHO Nuff, to help take care of kids because “one day they will need to take care of me.”

When discussing how they could make the biggest positive impact with their limited means, they came up with the idea to collect school supplies to make sure kids walk in the first day of school prepared and ready to go. 

“It’s amazing how you are blinded to what’s right in front of you,” Tamika said when thinking about how easy it is to miss some of society’s problems and solutions.

Horatio created flyers and Tamika spoke with her coworkers at Palomar Health. She says people around the office started to inquire how they could participate. Within two weeks the Home Health Services team had brought in a cubicle full of items. 

“Our team is definitely awesome,” Tamika said.

On Wednesday, August 9 Tamika and Horatio delivered 21 backpacks stuffed full of school supplies to Lincoln Elementary during registration day. Kids were able to pick out a backpack that fit their personality.
In the future, Tamika says she hopes to collect winter jackets and be able to provide other basic necessities like bus passes, shoes, and hotel vouchers.

Photo: Home Health Staffing Secretary Tamika Renteria (pink shirt) and Horatio Lewis (blue shirt) teamed up to collect backpacks for Escondido elementary school kids. From left to right Valerie Sanchez, Brittany Sanchez, and Francisco Alvarado display the backpacks they picked out on registration day at Lincoln Elementary School.

Return To Previous Page