It's hard to believe, but it is time to start thinking about going back to school in New Rochelle.
The members of the Residence Park Neighborhood & Civic Association want to make going back to school a little easier for some of the city's less fortunate students.
Residence Park is holding its annual Back-to-School Supply Drive through Aug. 17, with two drop-off dates scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 9 and 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 11 at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Elm Street.
There is also a drop box at 25 Laurel Pl. for round the clock donations.
Karen Collins, who chairs the supply drive, said monetary contributions are good as well.
"We also accept cash donations," she said, "which we use to purchase the school supplies."
Collins said they are looking to give away 150 backpacks—up about 30 from last year—containing supplies at a ceremony held at Hope Community Services at the end of August.
"We fill the backpacks with pens, pencils, folders, binders, notebooks and paper," she said, "everything the students need to have a good start for the school year."
One development this year, Collins said, was the receipt of a donation from ShopRite of 150 backpacks.
"We are super excited about that," she said.
Carol Troum, the executive director of Hope Community Services, said that the increase in the number of her clients requiring help getting school supplies is significant.
"It says this community is not in recovery," she said, "and if there is any recovery, it certainly hasn't trickled down here."
Troum said her organization has seen an increase in the number of working poor coming to take advantage of the food pantry as well as an increase in the number of families coming to the soup kitchen, which traditionally have been single men.
"We are seeing a lot more seniors, children and babies," she said. "The demographics have changed."
Efforts by Residence Park members are wonderful for Hope clients, Troum said.
"Over the years, the schools have less and less funding," she said. "Our people are struggling to buy food and pay rent. Anything we can do to help them to stay in their homes is good."
Troum said the children going back to school with the donated supplies don't necessarily give them an advantage.
"It lets them enter school on a level playing field," she said. "It doesn't stigmatize them; it sets them up for a good school year."
School supplies that are needed include:
- Composition books
- Loose leaf paper
Monetary donations, used to buy backpacks and supplies, in the form of checks can be made out to RPNA and mailed to P.O. Box 1033, New Rochelle, NY 10805. The donation deadline is Aug. 17.