Backpack Drive Held At The JCC

Backpacks filled with supplies were donated to children. (Photos by Caroline Ryan)

On Aug. 20-21, the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center (SJJCC) in East Hills held a volunteer program called “Supplies for Success.” The two day long event had approximately 400 volunteers who came together to gather and fill more than 3,700 backpacks for children in preparation for the upcoming school year.

The backpacks were filled with supplies depending on each grade level’s needs. Backpacks were made for children in third through fifth grade and others for children in grades 6 though 12. A collection of markers, pens, pencils, folders, notebooks and more were added to each of the bags. The backpacks were then picked up by various schools, community centers and local food panties, who requested the aid ahead of the event. They were then distributed to children from low-income families throughout Long Island.

The program, Supplies for Success is held yearly by the UJA-Federation of New York, a nonprofit organization that raises and distributes funds to fulfill its mission to “care for people in need, inspire a passion for Jewish life and learning and strengthen Jewish communities in New York, in Israel and around the world.” The first Supplies for Success event began 18 years ago. Mindy Richenstein and Ellen Grossman came together with a group of women to collect and fill 68 backpacks, which they donated to others in the area that were in need of assistance. Now, 18 years later, the program has expanded and to date, has distributed more than 15,000 backpacks to children in the metro New York area.

Backpacks filled with supplies were donated to children from low-income familes.

The UJA-Federation holds various fundraising events throughout the year, which helps supplement the cost of the supplies and backpacks they need to purchase. Fundraising events, boutiques and monetary donations are accepted throughout the year to help gather the large amount of supplies needed.

“It’s a year-long process and it takes a village to put this all together,” Debbie Gross, co-chair of the UJA Federation Supplies for Success drive, said.
The Sid Jacobson JCC was just one of many areas on Long Island that held the Supplies for Success drive. Although the UJA is a Jewish organization, the Supplies for Success program is open to children of all religious backgrounds. The event is composed of volunteers, most of whom were children.

“What is most important is that the kids get involved and they get to feel what it’s like to give back to their community,” Gross said.

For more than 100 years, the UJA-Federation has brought New Yorkers together to solve some of the most pressing problems facing our community. Through UJA, more than 50,000 donors impact the issues that matter most to them, pooling their resources to care for Jews everywhere and New Yorkers of all backgrounds, respond to crises close to home and far away, and shape a Jewish future. Working with a network of hundreds of nonprofits, UJA extends its reach from New York to Israel and to nearly 70 other countries around the world, touching the lives of 4.5 million people each year. Every $20 donation can fill a backpack for one child, a gift of $360 can provide backpacks for an entire class, a gift of $1,800 can sponsor an entire grade.

“Every child deserves a shot at success. Help us level the playing field,” the UJA-Federation website states. For more information on the UJA-Federation, visit To donate to the Supplies for Success drive, visit


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