500+ students at Paterson School 15 will receive new book bags and school supplies this year, thanks to a joint effort of non-profit organizations: United Way of Passaic County and St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation. Students will receive their free book bags in their classroom on the first day of school. School 15 will arrange the distribution.
United Way of Passaic County collects book bags and school supplies every year through their program Backpacks For Kids. The program, which United Way has led for 15 years, distributes more than 1,000 filled book bags each year to schools and non-profit groups in Passaic County. The bags and school supplies are donated by community members and businesses.
“The purpose of the Backpacks For Kids program is to mobilize community support for student success,” said United Way CEO Yvonne Zuidema. “So many community members want to support students and share the message that we care about their success. Especially after years of challenges, it’s more important than ever to give students a strong start to the school year.”
St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation’s AmeriCorps volunteers are helping to organize collection efforts and fill the book bags with school supplies. Each bag will be filled with notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, and crayons.
Both organizations have a longstanding partnership with School 15. St. Paul’s is the provider of community school services there, and United Way coordinates a volunteer reading program in grades K-2.
“We are grateful for the partnership that we’ve been able to establish with the United Way of Passaic County. It’s collective efforts like Backpacks For Kids, and so much more, that is allowing us to make a difference in the lives of students at School 15. We appreciate United Way’s ongoing support, as well as that of our dedicated AmeriCorps members for whom community events such as this would not be possible if they were not available to lend a helping hand,” shared St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation’s Executive Director Richard Williams.
School 15’s Principal, Ramona Garcia, said, “As we prepare for all of our students to return to school for the first time in 18 months, I am grateful that they will have backpacks and school supplies thanks to the generous help of the United Way of Passaic County and St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation. This kind assistance helps the families in our school community and gives students many of the items they’ll need to be academically successful in the coming school year.”
Superintendent Shafer said, “Year after year, Paterson Public Schools has been able to count on the United Way of Passaic County and St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation to do everything they can to help the district’s students and their families. The pandemic has made a harsh economic impact on many Paterson families. I thank everyone at these wonderful organizations for providing backpacks and school supplies to the Public School No. 15’s students, and for all they have done to help our students and families for many years.”