The National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) will offer over 700 economically disadvantaged students from Newark and surrounding areas the opportunity to shop for free at the Back 2 School Store (B2SS) on Sunday, August 2. Since its inception in 2009, the B2SS has benefited nearly 3,000 children and utilized over 2,000 volunteers. This year, we anticipate serving 700 children with the aid of over 400 volunteers, including one-on-one personal shoppers. Each year, hundreds of children from kindergarten through fifth grade who have been identified by partner agencies are able to “shop” cost-free for an abundance of brand new school supplies, clothes, and personal care items in a department-store-type setting set up just for them.
This one-day event is set up in a 4,000 square-foot space donated by B’Nai Shalom in West Orange, NJ. Local individuals, families, and businesses donate all of the brand new clothes and supplies; in addition, NCJW volunteers shop for brand-new clothes and supplies in major retail stores. With the assistance of NCJW volunteer “personal shoppers,” each child is escorted through the store to select and try on clothing to create an entire new outfit including a shirt, pants, sneakers, socks, underwear, winter jacket, hat and gloves. Volunteers also act as shoe fitters, staff private fitting rooms and restock inventory. In addition to the clothes, children are given a new backpack which they fill with school supplies and personal care items. The children are recognized by over 30 local social service agencies as needing additional financial support.
The onsite Gaelen Family Resource Center offers parents, caregivers, and children free health screenings, blood pressure screenings, glucose tolerance testing, eye exams and proper dental care for children. Information about health, community and career services, as well as educational opportunities, are also accessible through the Center.