By Samantha Ossip, NCJW|LA Volunteer
It is almost that time of year again when kids begin getting ready for the new school year. NCJW|LA’s Back 2 School Store ensures that children who may not be able to afford school supplies and school clothes get what they need before the year begins. The Store is a one-day event in which we turn our auditorium into a shop filled with different colors and sizes of children’s clothes and shoes. The children giddily walk around the store as they get to pick out brand new clothes for the school year. Every child leaves with a new outfit and a backpack filled with new school supplies. The program serves children from kindergarten to sixth grade who have been referred to us by different agencies in Los Angeles.
The Back 2 School Store started in St. Louis’s NCJW Section in 2001 and it has been spreading to other NCJW locations ever since. NCJW|LA started the program two years ago. When we started, our initial goal was to serve 250 kids and this year we already have 450 kids signed up.
The Back 2 School Store makes an impactful difference in these children’s lives and gives them the confidence they need to have a good school year. Pamela Brown, NCJW|LA’s Vice President of Youth Educational Programs and Services, shares how the program is “a nice boost we can give a lot of kids to start the school year.” As a teacher, Pamela saw firsthand how distracting and discouraging it is for children to not have the proper clothing or supplies for school. It is hard for them to concentrate on their work and friendships when they have to worry about their shoes not fitting well or missing a pencil. Pamela loves the Back 2 School Store because it gives children the supplies they need to feel confident about school and their own self-perception.
Volunteers rave about their experience helping the children walk around the store. They all say how amazing it is to watch the children’s faces light up as they get to pick out their own outfit. The most exciting part for the kids is the shoes. They love the different and fun shoes from Spiderman to princess-style shoes. Volunteers say it is a joy to watch the children debate between what shoes to pick. “It’s not just about giving them a shirt, but giving them something special that they can feel proud about,” says Brown.
“The Back 2 School Store is an important part of our mission to pursue justice in our community through Tzedakah, based on our belief that all children are entitled to start the school year with confidence and enthusiasm,” says Rachel Resnick, NCJW|LA’s Director of Youth Educational Programs and Services. We can all agree that whether you volunteer or donate, the Back 2 School Store is an amazing cause to get involved in!
Would you like to volunteer for the Back 2 School Store? Click here to sign up today
Samantha Ossip is an upcoming Junior at Tulane University studying Social Policy and Sociology