Community: Griffin Helps Host Back To School Bash

Rowan Kavner


LOS ANGELES – Blake Griffin saw what the Dream Center’s Back to School Bash was all about and decided to join in on the action Saturday morning, giving back to Los Angeles families in need as their children returned to school.

Griffin joined the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner and the Los Angeles Kings’ Tyler Toffoli in handing out school supplies to families from the Echo Park, Rampart District, Skid Row, Lincoln Heights, South Central and Watts neighborhoods. After the bags were handed out, Griffin also stuck around to give out autographs.

“If kids have the supplies they need, they can just focus on learning,” Griffin said. “I think that’s really important.”

The Clippers’ star forward said his brother had done a lot of work at the Dream Center, and Griffin got to know some of the people who worked there. He also saw a preview video of the event and Kershaw’s involvement, and he immediately knew he wanted to get involved when the opportunity presented itself again.

Kershaw said he’s just happy to help in an event that allows kids to receive materials they might not otherwise as they head back to school.

“It’s not just the financial aid that we can help them with, but they really want us to be hands on,” Kershaw said. “They want us to come out. We get to work with them, and that was really appealing.”

Griffin said he can’t explain how important it is to give back, and he was amazed to see all the people lined up around the block for the event to begin at 10 a.m. Griffin stood in line with Kershaw handing out backpacks once the event began, while Turner and Toffoli stood in line next to them.

“It always puts things in perspective,” Griffin said. “We’ve been blessed to be able to do what we love and we have the opportunity to give back.”

Each backpack contained school supplies, including pencils and notepads. In addition to receiving the backpacks, children at the event were able to participate in various games and activities, bouncing around in jump houses, playing basketball and taking part in arts and crafts.

Lunch was provided for the families, who could even give their children free health screenings and dental checkups, with a doctor on duty for physicals. Everything was provided at no cost to the families during the daylong event. Some of the children even left with bicycles if they received a surprise ticket in their backpack.

Griffin served as the title sponsor for the event, and his presence didn’t go unnoticed.

“We’re so grateful for him and the L.A. Clippers and everything they’re doing to make this city better,” said outreach director Jonathan Martinez.

It also didn’t go unnoticed by the families receiving the school supplies who would’ve had trouble providing for their children without the help.

Some of the families arrived as early as 4:20 a.m. to wait in line to be ready to receive the backpacks and supplies, and they were grateful that the money they would’ve spent on those supplies can now be used elsewhere to support their families.

The Dream Center is a volunteer-driven organization that finds and fills the needs of individuals and families. It’s serving more than 85,000 people each month, offering residential rehabilitation programs for adults, shelter for victims of human trafficking, transitional shelter for homeless families, mobile hunger relief and medical programs and foster care.

Elijah Howard, one of the kids in line at the event, heard about the free school supplies and decided to go. He said it means a lot to know how much the Dream Center and everyone who participated in Saturday’s event have done to help out the families with everything from food to supplies.

“I come to the Dream Center a lot,” Howard said. “Me and my family, we used to live here until we moved out. It’s been going really good for us. We just came out to have a good time, play some ball and see Blake Griffin.”

About 10 minutes later, Griffin handed Howard a backpack.

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