Last month two social service organizations took part in distributing free school supplies to local children from within their communities. The first organization to do this was Queens child welfare agency Forestdale, Inc., located in Forest Hills, Queens. It gave out free backpacks full of supplies during its Back To School Celebration event on Friday, August 14. More than 500 children benefited from this event, in which they also enjoyed a day full of music, dancing, face painting, barbecues, bouncy castle jumping and more. State Senator Leroy Comrie gave a heartfelt speech at the event, where he characterized Forestdale, Inc. as being a “bridge to opportunity” for kids who endured much hardship and trauma during their early lives, and yet wished to persevere in achieving their goals later in life.
Various national and local organizations and companies donated to the Forestdale Back To School drive. They include Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Ernst & Young, Staples, Old Navy, High Water Women, HBO, the ZMI Foundation, Ridgewood Savings Bank, Dowling Hales, and Minuteman Press among others. Donations were also made possible by generous individuals. All in all, it was another successful year for Forestdale’s annual charity event.
The next event to be held by Forestdale, Inc. will be its “Stepping Up Ceremony”, which celebrates the fathers who will be graduating from its 12-week program focused on strengthening the bonds between these fathers and their children. After the ceremony, Forestdale will host its Annual Fathers Barbecue, in which families can enjoy a day full of music, food and other special activities. The ceremony is part of Forestdale’s Fathering Initiative, a voluntary program funded by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, which works to help up to 150 non-custodial fathers learn to engage in healthy co-parenting. The “Stepping Up Ceremony” will take place on September 19, 2015 from 10 AM to 2 PM.
Later in the month, on Friday, August 28, another Back-To-School campaign took place, this time at the Jackson Heights Islamic Center, located on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens. At this event, up to 30 students received free backpacks filled with school items such as pens, pencils, crayons and notepads from the center’s backyard. This event was made possible thanks to the efforts of a local Bangladeshi-American nonprofit organization, which worked in conjunction with several company donors to make this event possible. Donors included MetroPlus Health and WellCare Health Plan, who both donated multi-colored backpacks with their personalized logos on it. It is hoped that this year’s successful charity drive can be expanded in order to become a local annual event for the local Bangladeshi community in Jackson Heights.