Disadvantaged N.J. Kids Get Special Back To School Shopping Experience

WEST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of children in New Jersey are now ready for their first day of school.

As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, the annual Back 2 School Store giveaway in West Orange provides brand new supplies to disadvantaged students across Essex County — at no cost to their families.

There is nothing quite like that feeling of finding the perfect outfit.

“I picked out a backpack,” said fifth grader Jordan Johnson.

In West Orange Sunday, nearly 1,000 Essex County students picked out their back to school essentials — from fresh sneakers to puffy pink coats – and of course, notebooks and pencils too.
And it’s all free — organized by the National Council of Jewish Women .

The elementary school kids are matched with volunteer personal shoppers who help them fill shopping bags with new supplies that their families might not have been able to provide.

“We could have just handed a bag of supplies, but we’re giving them an experience so like all other kids, they can shop for their own school supplies and feel like they’re making their own choices,” said Shari Harrison, president of the National Council of Jewish Women of Essex County.

Fifth grader Sydney Faminello said tie-dye is going to be a big trend in fifth grade this year. She is excited to show off her new backpack on the first day.

“I’m going to feel confident because I picked it out myself, and this was a style I really wanted,” she said.

And the 500 volunteers were happy to help style and size.

“They tell us sometimes this is the first they showed for themselves — and they really enjoy it,” said volunteer Stephen Weinstein.

The clothing is just the tip of the iceberg. Organizers make sure to save enough clothing and supplies in back rooms so even the last child to walk thru has their choice of styles.

And it is no parents allowed throughout the aisles, so once they are reunited, it is time for kids to show mom and dad all their trendy finds.

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