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Adventist Health 'Code Backpack' project brings school supplies to hundreds in Tehachapi and Boron


August 17, 2019

Felix Adamo

Brittney Alexander rifled through scores of backpacks that filled the picnic tables at Jacobsen Middle School searching for the perfect one.

There were black pleather bags, green and blue canvas backpacks and ones with wild colors. One bag - more of a canvas tote than a backpack - was hand-stitched with love and adorned with dozens of iron-on patches; one for The Beatles' Abbey Road, another for Def Jam Records, all things, no doubt, that most middle school students know little about.

Alexander's face lit up when she came upon one that she liked best - a bright blue and pink pack decorated with hearts and rainbows. Inside it was filled with pencils, pens, crayons, markers, paper, notebooks and other school supplies.

The 200 backpacks and the supplies in them were donated by Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley employees who banded together to take part in Code Backpack, a project that originated last year out of its sister hospital's emergency department in Bakersfield.

"If we go to our sister hospital, how many more kids could we bless?" asked Nancy Bulat, an emergency department charge nurse who developed the program at Adventist Health Bakersfield.

Employees in Tehachapi collected more than $2,500 worth of backpacks and supplies in less than three days and distributed them during Jacobsen Middle School's orientation day. It also provided children free immunizations out of Adventist Health Bakersfield's mobile unit. The hospital distributed even more backpacks in Boron the following week.

The project serves the mission of Adventist Health, which is "Living God's love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope," said Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley Communication Manager Harold Pierce.

"At Adventist Health, we know that education is an integral part of what makes up a healthy community. That's why our team got involved in Code Backpack to provide supplies to children in need," Pierce said. "The kids receiving backpacks at these drives are the same ones we care for when they come to our clinics and hospital. This is just one more way we can care for those kids outside of our four walls."

Bulat said the project is a way for her and others to give back to the communities they serve.

"I remember growing up, and I remember being the kid standing in those lines for free backpacks," Bulat said. "This is our way of giving back now."


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