Every August, hundreds of volunteers of all ages help unload trucks filled with cartons of brand-new backpacks and an assortment of essential school supplies. They then unpack and lay out the thousands of items on long tables inside the Rye High School Auxiliary Gym. The following day, they hand everything out. At the end, the volunteers are still smiling.
This is the 36th summer that Helping Hands for the Homeless & Hungry has organized this two-day effort. The beneficiaries are the children who live in area shelters and transitional arrangements. This year, 2,050 backpacks were filled, and a lot of children will be smiling when they show up for that first day of school.
Helping Hands extended thanks to the over 100 adults and nearly 200 teens and children who pitched in. “The local Daisy Girl Scout troop donated 16 backpacks. Among the volunteers were groups from Rye Rotary and Dunes Point Capital in Rye (12 people!),” noted longtime HH board member Ellen Cacciapaglia.
The ready-to-go backpacks are handed over to local social service agencies — Carver Center, Lifting Up Westchester, Don Bosco, Westhab, and Children’s Village among them — which then distribute them to the neediest of students.
– Photos by Tom McDermott and Robin Jovanovich