For the past 14 years, the annual NCJW/Essex Back 2 School Store (B2SS) has enabled Essex County children in financial need to “shop” for free clothing, sneakers, school supplies and personal care items. From 2008 through 2019, NCJW/Essex volunteers provided a pop-up “store” experience for these children, set up just for them in the Livingston, NJ area. With the assistance of hundreds of NCJW/Essex volunteer personal shoppers, each child was escorted through the department store-like space and given the opportunity to choose their own new pants, shirts, sneakers, hats, gloves, socks, undergarments, a winter coat and a backpack in their favorite colors and styles. Each child also received school supplies and books as well as personal care items. All of the merchandise was brand new and purchased by NCJW/Essex through philanthropic and sponsorship dollars. This helped enable the children to obtain the clothing and supplies they needed to have a successful school year.
In addition, while the children shopped, the Gaelen Family Resource Center gave parents and caregivers the opportunity to learn about healthcare, career and educational opportunities, to participate in free health screenings and to gather information about other community resources. Click here for photos from the 2019 B2SS.
In the summer of 2020, it became clear that, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, we would not be able to hold a traditional B2SS. Yet, the 800+ children we serve needed clothing and school supplies more than ever! We at NCJW/Essex are transforming the Back 2 School Store and introduced the first-ever NCJW/Essex Mobile Back to School Store! The 2020 and 2021 Mobile B2SS efforts enabled us to continue to serve the children and families in our community who have been among the hardest hit during these difficult times — and even to expand our reach, outfitting 1,000 children each year.
We are now planning for another Mobile B2SS for 2022 and we need your help in order to make sure local children get to start the school year right! Please consider increasing your gift this year, given the extraordinary need in our community. Click here to donate.