Ahwatukee Foothills orthodontist Joe Pearson and his staff have long been active participants in supporting the local community.

They host an annual Thanksgiving canned food drive, a Christmas toy drive for Phoenix Children's Hospital, and they are currently hosting a backpack drive through July 30 benefiting the students at Frank Elementary School in Guadalupe.

Dr. Pearson's office spokeswoman Lisa Abeln coordinated the office's newest donation drive after hearing from her pastor at Corpus Christi Catholic Church that 98 percent of students at Frank Elementary start the school year without a backpack or basic supplies.

According to Normalicia Blanco, Frank Elementary Family Resource Center parent liaison, Corpus Christi Catholic Church "plays a big role in our lives at the school."

Abeln decided that bringing the church's aspirations to Pearson's office was the perfect way to help Frank Elementary.

"So many of our patients love the drives we do. I know a lot of parents in Ahwatukee who buy their children new backpacks every year. Hopefully they will donate last year's backpack or pick an extra one up while back-to-school shopping," Abeln said.

Pearson Orthodontic's hopes to relocate 500 new or gently-used backpacks from Ahwatukee homes to children in need in Guadalupe before the first day of classes on Aug.10.

Blanco said that the school will be handing the backpacks and supplies out during their "meet the teacher night" event.

"The students are hungry to learn regardless of other things going on in their lives and Frank Elementary welcomes donations drives because it helps the kids be successful," Blanco said, stressing that she didn't want the children to come across as just being needy.

"When we receive donations we teach the children that they can do things to give back to the community as well. It's a wonderful school full of good people," she said.

Since the backpack drive began in May, Pearson's waiting room has been filled with more than 250 backpacks. Lunchboxes, binders and other school supplies are also being accepted.

Ablen said that if people can't make it into the office she would be more than happy to set up a time to pick up the donations.

Pearson Orthodontics is located at 4350 E. Ray Road. For more information, contact Lisa Abeln at (480) 759-7575.

Erica Tiffany is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.


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