Just in Time, Backpacks Filled With Donated School Supplies

Backpacks filled with donated school supplies awaited children at the Springs School on Tuesday morning when school opened for the 2016-17 school year. Christine Sampson

About 200 volunteers of all ages came together last week through the UJA-Federation of New York's Supplies for Success program to fill backpacks with donated school supplies destined for local children in need of a hand to start the school year on a positive note.

"Kids should not start school anxious and ashamed, but rather confident and hopeful, with the basic tools needed to succeed," Mindy Richenstein, a Sagaponack resident who heads up the program, said in a statement. "No parent should have to choose between food on the table or notebooks and pencils."

The volunteers spent the afternoon of Aug. 30 at the Ross Lower School in Bridgehampton putting together the backpacks, about 2,000 in all. Filled with age-appropriate school supplies, they will be gifts for kids in school districts including Springs, East Hampton, Riverhead, Hampton Bays, and Southampton, as well as the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Backpacks were also distributed to the Retreat, the Bridgehampton Childcare and Recreational Center, and other nonprofit organizations.

The UJA-Federation is an international Jewish service organization established more than 90 years ago. The Supplies for Success program is in its fourth year on the East End. More than 11,000 backpacks were filled across the program's eight locations, including four on Long Island.

Francesca Bittan, a resident of East Hampton, labeled backpacks with grade level at the UJA-Federation's Supplies for Success backpack assembly event at the Ross School last week.Aleksandra Saland