By Elizabeth Waickman

For the fourth consecutive year, National Council of Jewish Women – Pittsburgh Section (NCJW) hosted its annual Back 2 School Store on at The Kingsley Center in East Liberty. More than 600 elementary school children, grades K-5, shopped with volunteers for new and brand-name clothing, backpacks, school supplies and other items for the upcoming school year.
NCJW wanted the event to help provide a fun back to school experience for children, which will get them excited about the new school year, as well as raise awareness of the struggle under-resourced families may face at this time of year.
“Back to school shopping is a regular, fun rite of passage at the end of each summer, but for some families in our community, this is a very stressful time of year,” said Cristina Ruggiero, NCJW Executive Director. “We want to eliminate some of the financial and emotional burdens families experience at this time of year by giving kids a back to school shopping day that is on par with their peers, while providing additional resources for parents and families who may be struggling.”
Underprivileged children were identified by area service agencies and referred to NCJW to participate in the event. Children were paired with volunteer personal shoppers, who helped them shop and select brand new back-to-school outfits. Racks were filled with new clothes purchased by NCJW volunteers who shopped retail sales all year long, and donated by retailers like American Eagle. Children were also able to shop from a selection of winter coats donated by PIttsburgh Firefighters IAFF Local No.1 Firehouse, who was also on hand to fit the children for their coats. Little’s Shoes of Squirrel Hill was also on hand to fit children with new back-to-school shoes, given to NCJW at a deep discount. While children shopped, parents visited the NCJW Resource Room to connect with local organizations and agencies providing assistance and referrals related to healthcare, parenting, financial literacy, career services and other social services.
NCJW’s Back to School Store was made possible with support from The Philip Chosky Charitable & Educational Foundation, The Grable Foundation, The Jack Buncher Foundation, Giant Eagle, and Huntington Bank, as well as individual donors. Last year’s Back 2 School Store served 614 children and 300 volunteers donated their time to the event.

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NCJW is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates that has
been at the forefront of social change for more than 120 years. Always
working to improve the lives of women, children, and their families,
NCJW is committed to ensuring that all children have equal access to
education and opportunities. For more information, visit www.ncjwpgh.org [1].