Montclair Sentinels’ backpack giveaway a success, organizers say
By ERIN ROLL
The Montclair Sentinels’ 10th annual school supplies giveaway on Sunday at Glenfield Park was such a big success that it’s not over yet, said the event’s organizers.
The giveaway provides school supplies to children and teens whose families have trouble affording supplies on their own.
“We must have given away 400-plus school bags,” Detective Kim Nelson-Edwards said on Monday. Nelson-Edwards is a trustee of the Sentinels, Montclair’s minority police officer association.
There were about 170 bags left over, she said, so the Sentinels are notifying families that had registered but not attended to let them know that bags were available.
“Every kid will get a bag” before the start of school, Nelson-Edwards said.
“Once again it was another tremendous success,” Albert Pelham, chair of the Montclair NAACP, said via email on Monday. “In these trying times that our country is going through, [it was great to] see the many organizations coming together to show great community spirit as hundreds of families enjoyed the games, food, fellowship and of course, free book bags.”
Donors and supporting community groups included the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, the Montclair NAACP, the Police Athletic League, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Montclair Cobras, the board of education, several sororities and fraternities and many others.
Nelson-Edwards noted that Assemblyman Tom Giblin also provided a donation. The financial donations totaled about $3,500, she said.
“I thought it was a very successful event,” BOE member Joe Kavesh said on Monday. “And there was a long, long line from the Wally Choice field house, almost out of the park.”
The event served more than 600 burgers and hot dogs, along with cotton candy and drinks, Nelson-Edwards said.
The Sentinels worked with the community groups to collect 600 or so new backpacks and fill them with school supplies. The bags and their contents were sorted according to grade level, from small bags for preschoolers to backpacks for middle and high school students.
Besides the Sentinels, the Human Needs Food Pantry has also been accepting donations of school supplies. The United Way of Northern New Jersey collected school supplies at its Montclair location for Montclair and other North Essex towns.
And earlier this summer, the Montclair Community Operation Backpack project, led by resident Kimya Nilsen, collected backpacks and school supplies for children and teens in homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters.
The first day of school in Montclair is Thursday, Sept. 7.