With the kids heading back to school to begin a new year, life is an exciting time full of crayons, pencil sharpeners and 3-Ring paper. Yet heading back to school can be a costly endeavor for parents, especially those who are already struggling. In an attempt to help families in need, teams of volunteers have started pitching in this week to get kids ready to go back to school.
The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey embarked on their third year of school supply fundraising this week. Filling almost 2000 knapsacks, the group came together for their annual Supplies for Success Event. The event is simple—get back to school supplies to the families and kids who need them most.
There are almost half a million children living below the poverty line in the Garden State, making affording the necessary back to school supplies an unaffordable expense for many families. As such the event was founded to help give every child in need a new backpack full of school supplies to help them in their upcoming year. The event estimates that 20 % of children heading back to school this year won’t have the necessary tools to engage in their schooling efficiently. The event’s organizers want to ensure that every child in the school system not only has access to the supplies they need, but wants to make sure that every child starts out with the same chance for success.
The value of each filled backpack is estimated at a cost of around $18, which seems insignificant enough, but for families with multiple children the added cost can hinder their other financial obligations.
Volunteers experienced a mix of emotion as they packed the bags. Some were enthusiastic, while others were saddened by the cause. Parents who were volunteering empathized with parents who could simply not afford new pencils or erasers for their children, noting that the economic downturn has hit everyone.
From kindergarten to grade eight, backpacks were filled with a variety of different supplies conducive to the demands of the grade the student was entering. Some backpacks had pencils, while others had more advanced supplies such as calculators and protractors; whatever the grade, the backpacks were filled to ensure that every necessary item was accounted for.
The event has grown more than 300% since its inception and has improved the lives of students at every school in the Bergen County area. For most of the volunteers the event wasn’t just about giving back, but setting a standard for their children.
While the event currently only focuses on Bergen County the event’s organizers have high hopes to eventually expand it into all of New Jersey in order to provide all children with the same chance of success when they head back to school.
The event has not only grown, but has become an exciting fundraiser that the community has begun to look forward to every year. With parents and their children both volunteering together, the message is clear, community is alive and well in Bergen County.
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