Oak View neighborhood of Huntington Beach holds back-to-school giveaway

Aug 29, 2023

The Oak View neighborhood can sometimes be forgotten when one thinks of Huntington Beach. But the largely Latino and low-income community a few miles from the sand was bustling with life on Friday.

Oak View ComUNIDAD presented a back-to-school giveaway for dozens of families that formed a long line down Koledo Lane. Two hundred pairs of shoes and backpacks were gone in less than an hour.

Toyota of Huntington Beach helped sponsor the event, which also included representatives from Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and the Huntington Beach Police Department. Bicycle helmets and first-aid kits were among the items given away, while tacos were served up.

Ana Ortiz of Midway City picks up a pair of shoes for her daughter Alexandra, right, at Friday’s event. (Matt Szabo)

“It brings awareness to the community of Oak View, which tends to be a little under-served,” said Jennifer Ruiz of Oak View ComUNIDAD. “To have the HBPD here today and for them to make that time was pretty amazing. There is a misconception that this community doesn’t have the same relationship with law enforcement that maybe the rest of the community has. To feel that love — and I know it’s there — it was really great. It felt like community, right?”

Ana Ortiz of nearby midway Midway City brought three of her four children. Each got a pair of sneakers, and Ortiz was grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m feeling thankful that they will do this for the kids, free stuff, everything like that,” Ortiz said.

Jane D’Amelio is the philanthropy director for Wilson Automotive Group, which includes Toyota of Huntington Beach. She said this was the fifth back-to-school event the company has put on in the community.

Jane D’Amelio of Wilson Automotive Group, right, poses with a happy teenager at Friday’s event. (Courtesy of Jane D’Amelio)

A couple of shoe drives were held to get the footwear donated, she said.

D’Amelio said she identifies with the Oak View community, as she grew up on the East Coast in the projects of Boston with 10 brothers and sisters.

“I never got a backpack,” she said. “When I started doing well and seeing this community and what they were doing, I was like, ‘I want to give back to these kids. I want these kids to one day give back and break the cycle.’ Just because I’m doing better and I got out of the projects doesn’t mean we don’t take care of the people that are still there. You never forget your roots.”

A few cheerleaders from Fountain Valley High were also at the giveaway helping out, including incoming senior Bella Paramo.

Paramo, 17, is the daughter of Gina Paramo, who does community outreach for Toyota. She received an Act of Kindness award earlier this year from the Fountain Valley City Council.

“It went smooth,” Bella Paramo said of Friday’s event. “It’s really nice to see the kids get happy. Everyone only pays attention to the nice parts of Huntington Beach. They don’t realize that there’s communities like this that really need it.”

Two-hundred pairs of shoes were given out to families at Friday’s event. (Courtesy of Jane D’Amelio)

Oak View ComUNIDAD continues to hold its Friday food drives that it started in 2020 at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Ruiz said.

More backpacks, shoes and school supplies are expected to be given out at a back-to-school workshop at Oak View Elementary on Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. That conference is for middle- and high-school students and presented by the Waymakers Huntington Beach Youth Shelter.

To register, call Edgar Espinoza at (714) 586-7075.

“I’m trying to raise awareness and give the community a footprint in the town,” said D’Amelio, adding that 40 students are already registered for Wednesday’s workshop. “Some of our employees live here.”

Find a Doctor

Need a doctor for your care? 

Sign Up for Health Tips

Get our advice and upcoming events about weight, pain, heart and more.