Volunteers of all ages gathered in the Resurrection Church basement to stuff 2,030 backpacks for underprivileged children over the last two days at the Helping Hands for the Homeless and Hungry, Inc. 26th annual backpack drive.
Helping Hands raised enough money to spend $24 per backpack, each one includes all the necessary items for a student starting a new school year. This year they include a scientific calculator for older students.
“It is just a great event and it is very fulfilling when you are done and you see how many volunteers turn out, “ said Susan Salice, co-president of Helping Hands and Chair of the backpack drive. “We hope this encourages kids to go to school because education is a real opportunity for them,” she said.
The organization teams up with 19 other agencies that help distribute the bags to area children in need – some are homeless or living in shelters and others are from families who cannot afford the back to school items.
Salice said Helping Hands is extremely grateful to the sound shore community that donates at fundraisers and volunteers every year. Volunteers from Rye, Mamaroneck, Harrison, Port Chester, Rye Brook, White Plains and there was one from as far as Peekskill, Salice said.
State Senator George Latimer and County Executive Rob Astorino were among the long assembly lines of volunteers.
“This is the most fun I do all year,” Sen. Latimer said. “It is the best coming and helping people out.” The volunteer next to the senator added that Latimer volunteers with Helping Hands once a month preparing bag lunches for the Grace Church Soup Kitchen in White Plains.
Helping Hands also runs an Undie Fundie project, to provide underwear to children in shelters, a Dinner at noon program to serve a hot lunch at the Carver Center in Port Chester. Read more about the organization at helpinghandsrye.org.