With new modifications, the NCJW’s Back 2 School Store was still able to serve the children of Detroit.
On Wednesday, the National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan (NCJW|MI) held their annual Back 2 School Store at Congregation Shaarey Zedek. Although this year’s store looked a little different due to the coronavirus pandemic, the members of NCJW|MI said they knew they couldn’t abandon the children they serve.
For the past six years, the NCJW|MI has held their Back 2 School Store, which is a pop-up “store” that invites over 700 kids from grades K-5 from Detroit to pick out free school supplies purchased by the organization. Each child would normally pick out a new winter coat, hat, gloves, pants, two shirts, socks, underwear, shoes, school supplies and a book.
The social services agencies that the NCJW|MI works with have a specific number of kids that they can invite to the store. They have parents fill out paperwork so the NCJW|MI can buy the correct sizes of clothing for the kids that will be coming to the store that year.
“Normally, the kids pick out everything. The parent doesn’t go inside the store with them but instead they go with a personal shopper,” Sallyjo Levine, one of the vice presidents of the NCJW|MI, said.
This year, since they could not hold the full service store, they had to cut their numbers down to serve 500 kids. The NCJW|MI worked with 22 different service agencies, such as Brilliant Detroit and Detroit Parent Network.
Every agency designated one person to come pick up the supplies on August 12 at a specific time. The belongings were already bagged and marked with the organization and what sizes the clothes were. The organizations will then ensure that the supplies reach the children.
In addition to the clothing, they also included masks for the students and letters from the NCJW|MI members to provide inspiration to the children that are receiving these supplies.
The store has previously provided a health fair for the childrens’ parents or guardians and allows the children to see an eye doctor and receive a voucher for glasses. The NCJW|MI also hands out a booklet that they created, called 313 Baby, a guide for families that are expecting or have young children.
“Hopefully by this time next year we’ll be back to doing the full service store,” Levine said. “Detroit is our family and we knew that, especially during this crucial time, we could not abandon the children we serve. It is really important that we are there for people who need it.”