For the 15th consecutive year, the National Council of Jewish Women – Essex County section (NCJW/Essex) will be holding its Back 2 School Store, providing essential, school-related items to students in need across Essex County.
This year’s Store will be held on July 30.
Kearny Bank has supported the Back 2 School Store since 2012. This year, through its charitable foundation, it has donated $18,000.
The approximately 1,000 students who benefit – each of whom must be registered in advance through any of about 40 supporting charitable or municipal agencies – may “shop” for a range of clothing, school supplies, personal care items, and various accessories. Available attire includes coats, underwear, socks, pants, tops, hats and gloves. All items are new, and children have choices of current, popular styles.
“Our company is committed to helping those communities where we conduct business, and the Back 2 School Store is precisely the type of program we’re proud to support,” Kearny Bank President and CEO Craig Montanaro said. “When you realize just how many children don’t have access to what most of us consider the most basic necessities, you get a little hitch in the back of your throat. At the same time, it’s inspiring – it’s heartwarming – to see what the NCJW/Essex folks are able to achieve each year.”
“Obviously, making sure children are warm, comfortable, and have the supplies they need is vital, but the Back 2 School Store is also intended to be empowering,” Caitlin Higgins Joy, NCJW/Essex Executive Director said. “We regularly hear children say they have never before had an opportunity to shop for and choose their own things. With this initiative, if a child wants – for example – a purple coat, they can pick a purple coat.”
The Back 2 School Store is a huge, collective undertaking, which requires an ongoing, year-round effort. And that’s why NJCW/Essex sets approximately 300 volunteers to the task. Of note, agencies with clients who aren’t able to shop in person will pick up specially packed bags during the week following the July 30 Store event.
“What our volunteers accomplish is amazing – maybe even miraculous,” explains 2023 Back 2 School Store Co-Chair Susie Botwinick. “The logistics are daunting, but the biggest and most creative challenge is making the funds we have go as far as possible. Our volunteers are constantly tracking down all kinds of sales and discount opportunities. Even a small amount of money saved means being able to purchase another coat, more notebooks, or some other essentials.”