RYE, N.Y. – The Rye-based nonprofit Helping Hands for the Homeless and Hungry set a record this year by filling 2,025 backpacks with school supplies for children in need across the Sound Shore.
The packs were filled in less than two hours Tuesday morning by hundreds of volunteers who came out to Resurrection Church on Boston Post Road. About 20 agencies throughout Port Chester, White Plains, Yonkers and Mount Vernon picked up the backpacks after they were stuffed.
The agencies will hand out the backpacks to students who live in underprivileged areas or homeless shelters, or are in transition situations and need school supplies.
“By starting school with a brand new school bag and all new supplies, it gives them a good start,” said Brigitte Sarnoff, co-president of Helping Hands for the Homeless and Hungry.
Wendy Seaver of Rye pitched in by moving boxes, handing out supplies and telling other volunteers where to go.
“Wherever I was needed, I chipped in,” she said. “It’s been a worthwhile project in our community for years, and it brings us all together – the young, the old, children come from other communities to help. The diversity of everyone was great to see.”
Since 1987, the organization has helped 19,000 students start off the school year with proper supplies. This year is Helping Hands’ 25th anniversary, and the organization set its goal to raise $35,000 to provide the 2,505 backpacks for children from kindergarten through 12th grade.
The goal set this year was so high that the organization almost didn't reach it. Luckily, the group managed through donations to provide backpacks, pencils, pens, highlighters, crayons, rulers, colored markers, paper, folders, notebooks, erasers and glue sticks, as well as calculators for older students.
The organization buys from a wholesaler, and each bag is created for $20. “The average person spends $60 to $70 on their school supplies every year,” Sarnoff said. “… And everything inside is a name brand.”