Imagine what it must feel like to go to school without the things you need – like pencils, notebooks or even a coat. Now image what it must feel like to be one of 500 economically disadvantaged children who had the opportunity to ‘shop’ for the things they needed for school on Sunday, August 1, at B’nai Shalom in West Orange, NJ.
Thanks to the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Essex County Section, 500 children from Essex County got to do just that with the help of 300 volunteers and a ‘department store’ full of school supplies and clothes.
The NCJW held their second annual “Back 2 School Store” to allow the children to pick out their own clothes, shoes, school supplies and personal care items. Parents are not allowed into the ‘store’. “We want to give them (the children) the dignity of choosing their own clothes” says Ellen Lynette, Public Relations, Back 2 School, NCJW, Essex County Section. While the children ‘shop’ with one of the NCJW’s volunteers, the parents are treated to a Family Resource Center in the main hall. Information on various medical, dental services, voter registration, as well as, representatives from the Newark Y and the Red Cross were available for the families.
The NCJW does this to help the children focus on learning. The first “Back 2 School” was a bit of a hard sell according to Jill Sorkin Johnson, President, NCJW Essex County Section. The various social services agencies didn’t really believe we were doing this. “We had 228 children last year. This year, thanks to word of mouth, we have 500 children signed up”. When asked why she personally did this, Jill replied, “In the Jewish religion there’s something called ‘repairing the world’. I want to leave the world in a better place than how I found it.”
Story and slideshow by Barista Kids contributor Joy Yagid, who is a Maplewood based photographer.