Kids who live at East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas are ready to go back to school thanks to a community effort to collect backpacks and school supplies for more than 100 children.

Activist Helen Zurita led the effort to recruit donations from around the City of Manassas and Prince William County.

Volunteers donated backpacks for each East End child and then filled them with the supplies designated by the child's school and grade level.

The backpacks, each with an individual child's name attached, were distributed Sunday, Aug. 11, during a celebration that included dinner provided by Okras, Guapos and other vendors as well as face-painting and Kona Ice.

Zurita is well known for her efforts on behalf of the East End community. She helped organize residents who mounted a legal fight to save their homes when the park was slated to be purchased by the City of Manassas in an effort to fix its ailing sewer system. City leaders said the work would require emptying the park of residents' mobile homes.

Residents feared they would have nowhere to relocate their mobile homes, as mobile home space is sparse in Northern Virginia.

In 2017, Catholics for Housing stepped in to purchase the park, and the sewer system has since been fixed. 

Zurita has continued to help East End residents, some of whom are recent immigrants.

Several community leaders, elected officials and candidates for elected office helped out with the donation drive.

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