Annual Program fills 1,200 backpacks with new school supplies for low income Westchester County children
Helping local children start the new academic school year ready to learn, Westchester County partnered with Family Services of Westchester to launch the “Backpacks to School” Program for 2019. Each summer, The Sharing Shelf, a program of Family Services of Westchester, runs a county-wide drive between May and August to raise the funds needed to purchase new school supplies for elementary, middle and high school students. The Sharing Shelf is seeking to raise $35,000 to fill at least 1,250 backpacks with new binders, notebooks, folders, crayons, pencils, pens and paper this year.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “When we think back on our ‘first day of school’ memories from childhood, we probably think about our Mom or Dad dropping us of at school with a new book bag, filled with new school supplies for the year. But for many kids living in Westchester County, a backpack filled with colourful notebooks, a lunch box, pencils and pens, is something they can’t afford. A new backpack stuffed with school supplies can make all the difference, and this program helps us to do just that.”
The Sharing Shelf Program Director Deborah Blatt said: “The Sharing Shelf believes that every child deserves to start the school year prepared and ready to learn. Keeping children in school is one of our goals. We are proud to partner with Westchester County to ensure that so many low income children will walk through the school doors next month with a new backpack and new school supplies. We hope each child will have a smile on their face and confidence in their step, putting them on the path to learning and future success."
Businesses and employees who have already pledged their support for the 2019 backpack drive include Regeneron, Schott, SwissRe, Dechert LLP and the Westchester County Department of Corrections union.
In 2018, the Sharing Shelf distributed over 1,450 backpacks and over 35% were requested by Westchester County’s Department of Social Services. Nearly 60,000 Westchester County children live in low-income homes, and 36% qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Meanwhile, the average family spends $122 on school supplies, a sum that can be out of reach for low-income families and those living below the poverty level in Westchester County.
The backpacks will be distributed before Labor Day to children throughout Westchester County. To find out more about how to help or to donate, please contact The Sharing Shelf Program Director,
About Family Services of Westchester
Family Services of Westchester, Inc. (FSW) is a private, not-for-profit agency serving our community since 1954. Headquartered in Purchase, FSW runs more than 50 social service and mental health programs that reach 30,000 children, teens, adults, and families a year. Programs include adoption and foster care for children; Head Start and Pre-K programs for Westchester’s youngest students; Big Brothers/Big Sisters and other mentoring programs for teens; social support for the elderly; assistance to veterans; and educational and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS. We are licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health to provide comprehensive mental health services at seven Family Centers (Hastings-on-Hudson, Mt. Vernon, Pelham, Port Chester, Sleepy Hollow, White Plains, and Yonkers) and five school-based mental health clinics. For more information about FSW, visit www.fsw.org.