Longtime Wellington-based nonprofit Back to Basics has found a new temporary location in the Southern Palm Crossing shopping center on Southern Blvd. at a vacant outparcel near Panera Bread.
The new location will help facilitate this year’s Back to Basics Angel Program initiative, which provides 7,500 needy children with the basic necessities of new sneakers, socks, underwear and a toy each year during the holiday season.
“It’s a stand-alone building, 7,100 square feet. It’s beautiful, it’s wonderful, it’s air-conditioned,” Board Member Kelle Enriquez said.
While it certainly makes for a more comfortable location to work than the Back to Basics warehouse in Wellington, it also allows for proper social distancing and the assembly of additional packages for needy students to make up for the anticipated shortage of packages coming in from the community due to the pandemic.
The Back to Basics program also gives needy children two school uniforms each year. Last year, Back to Basics supplied holiday packages to 7,500 children and 21,000 school uniforms.
“It’s all elementary school kids in Palm Beach County who are basically living at below the poverty level,” Enriquez said. “Of the 7,500 [packages], 5,500 came in from the community, and 2,000 we took care of in-house ourselves.”
Community supporters have traditionally supplied many of the packages, and Back to Basics makes up the difference. Back to Basics collects the names, ages and shoe sizes of children in need from schools across the county and distributes them to churches, businesses, clubs and individuals to buy the items and put together packages.
“We take in a lot of extra names,” Enriquez said. “We buy the sneakers, socks, underwear and toys, and we wrap them up ourselves. We make sure that all the names we get from the schools, we provide the gifts for them.”
Another service Back to Basics provides is two uniforms for students just before the beginning of the school year.
“With COVID-19, everything is different, so this year we provided 21,000 new school uniforms to elementary schools, and we started doing middle schools as well,” Enriquez said. “There’s so much need out there. Many schools that we work with, 85 to 90 percent of their children are on free and reduced lunch. That’s the criteria we are working with.”
The pandemic brought about a crisis for Back to Basics when the factory that produces the uniforms was shut down out of safety concerns.
“The final shipment of 7,000 uniforms just came in this week,” Enriquez said. “This year, with COVID, we knew it was not realistic to think we’re going to get all those names back out to the community… so we’re planning on making 6,000 packages in-house. We’re still hoping to get a few thousand names out into the community. We still want to cover the kids and then some.”
Enriquez credited InvenTrust Property Management, which manages Southern Palm Crossing, with stepping up to the challenge and providing the temporary location.
The money to purchase the clothing and gifts comes from numerous donors and from grants. For more information, visit www.backtobasicsinc.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Enriquez at (561) 702-4527.