By Steve Holt
If the phrase “back to school shopping” provokes distraught memories from childhood about the waning days of summer, think for a moment about the children whose families can’t afford that all-important trip to stock up for the new school year.
That’s why, since 2015, the National Council of Jewish Women New York (NCJWNY) has sponsored a Back 2 School Store at its headquarters at 241 West 72d Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue. About 200 elementary-school children from low-income families get to pick out everything they need for September, all brand new and free of charge.
This year’s store will be open from July 31 to August 2.
To help make this happen, the Council needs about a hundred volunteers: to act as personal shoppers and department store clerks, and to set up the store before the happy shoppers arrive.
As the Council’s Executive Director Andrea Solwen Kopel explains, “It’s very labor and time intensive, for children to come to the store and do their shopping and be served in a really thoughtful and individualized way. Two hundred children may not sound like a lot by New York City standards, but we’re going for quality, not quantity. We’re really looking to have an impact and provide a special experience.”
The lucky students have already been chosen by the Council’s Partner organizations, including Goddard Riverside, Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, and a half dozen others, from among their existing clients.
If you’d like to volunteer in the store, here’s a link. If you have questions about volunteering, you can email the Council’s Volunteer Manager Aviva Zadoff at email@example.com. And if you’d like to make a contribution to support the store, you can do that here.
Still thinking about helping out? Take a look at the above video, which captures the flavor of the event, and what it means to the kids. According to Kopel, “All our volunteers say it’s their favorite day of the year.”