Parents and volunteers alike were overwhelmed with joy, gratitude and teary eyes as they watched children from South Shore Nassau County communities affected by Hurricane Sandy benefit from the inaugural National Council of Jewish Women Peninsula and South Shore sections “Back 2 School Store” on July 28.
Held at Temple Am Echad in Lynbrook, more than 300 elementary school children were given the opportunity to choose new winter coats, sneakers, clothing, backpacks and other back to school essentials with the help of volunteer personal shoppers.
Local social service agencies, churches, synagogues, and other community organizations selected the children. Families then filled out forms, which helped the NCJW sections buy the correct clothing and sneaker sizes.
The “Back 2 School Store,” was open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and empowered the kids, allowing them to choose their own clothing and supplies. “One little girl picked out a pink winter coat and was so excited that she did not take it off. She wore it all day despite the summer heat,” said Linda Tolkin, executive director of NCJW Peninsula Section, who helped establish the store for her section.
Tolkin borrowed the idea for the “Back 2 School Store” from the NCJW Saint Louis and New Jersey sections that have run similar events for needy children. “Not only did it boost the children’s self-esteem but it also took the burden off of the families. Parents were so appreciative and grateful,” Tolkin said.
The event also included an onsite Family Resource Center open to adults who accompanied the children on Sunday. The Center, sponsored by North Shore/LIJ Health Systems, featured programs on such topics as sports safety, childhood obesity, bullying and planned parenthood.
“The experience was emotionally overwhelming and the smiles on the kids’ faces were unbelievable,” said Pnina Knopf, publicity chair of the NCJW Peninsula Section, adding that the “Back 2 School Store” is expected to be open again next year.