Group organizes school supply drive for kids with disabilities

Posted at: 08/05/2013 10:22 AM
Updated at: 08/05/2013 10:40 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Amanda Ellis founded To Autism, With Love to help families of children with disabilities.
Amanda Ellis founded To Autism, With Love to help families of children with disabilities.

As kids head back to class, many parents are left trying to pinch pennies for school supplies.

There are a lot of groups hoping to help with school supply drives, but one organization is reaching out to a group they say are underserved: Parents of kids with disabilities.

"Back to school is a big expense because you're buying supplies; you're buying clothing," said Amanda Ellis, founder of "To Autism, With Love."

Ellis is focused on helping families with children with disabilities. People like the Ruiz family. They have four school-aged kids, two with disabilities.

"At the end of the month when you're living paycheck to paycheck, you run out of certain things," Roberto Ruiz said. "We just kind of fall in between the cracks."

That's what Ellis is trying to fix.

"There are very few resources available to this demographic. Twenty-eight percent of families that have a child with a disability are living in poverty," she said. "We try to sit down and think, 'What is going to come up that's going to throw these families off, what's going to put them behind financially?'"

Back to school is one of those times. To Autism, With Love is in the middle of a school supply drive right now. So far, they've received 200 backpacks from ABQ Health Partners. Now they're looking to stretch their donation dollars to fill those packs with supplies.

Jennie Trujillo is an extreme couponer helping the cause that Ellis calls her "secret weapon."

"I use coupons for everything. I don't shop without coupons," Trujillo said. "I do a lot of homework, it takes a lot of preparation. A lot of my items, I was able to find for as little as a penny."

For the Ruiz family, this type of donation really makes a difference. "It helps us out tremendously," Ruiz said.

Since we first aired Ellis' story in May, she says she's been able to set up a local and national support team and is also now offering a support group for families with children with autism.

To Autism, With Love is still in need of school supplies. They're trying to provide 200 backpacks to kids and families with disabilities that are in financial need. For more information about how to sponsor a child, email or visit the organization's Facebook page.