National Council of Jewish Women’s Essex County Section held its fourth annual Back 2 School Store Aug. 5 benefitting more than 500 local economically disadvantaged children. The youngsters, ages five through 11, shopped for free for the day from an array of brand-new clothes, school supplies, and personal care items in a “department store” set up for them at B’nai Shalom in West Orange.
With the assistance of more than 300 NCJW volunteer “personal shoppers,” each child was escorted throughout the “store” to select and try on items for a complete new outfit. Volunteers also acted as shoe fitters, staffed private fitting rooms, and restocked inventory. The children — identified from over 35 different social service agencies — also received new backpacks filled with school supplies and personal-care items.
All merchandise was new, purchased at major retail stores by NCJW volunteers with financial contributions from individuals, families, foundations, and businesses.
“Watching the looks of pure joy and excitement on the children’s faces truly put everything into perspective for me,” said section president Karen Cherins. “Many of these youngsters have never had anything but hand-me-downs, and this year they can proudly sport their own new clothes and supplies as they go back to school fully equipped to learn.”
“It felt great to be a part of something doing so much obvious good,” said NCJW volunteer Jaime Ebright. “The kids were fantastic and it was incredibly rewarding to see how much they were enjoying the process. I loved seeing their eyes light up when they realized they could pick whatever they wanted. It was a real reminder of how fortunate we all are.”
For more information, visit www.ncjwessex.org.