Aug. 24, 2023 By Anthony Medina
The back-to-school season is in full swing and with classes for New York City schools beginning in two weeks, parents rush to fulfill a list of much-needed school supplies for the school year.
In recognition of those families who need some extra help this year, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar hosted a back-to-school giveaway right in front of her district office on Tuesday, Aug. 22.
An estimated 500 backpacks were distributed during the evening event at 83-91 Woodhaven Blvd. in Woodhaven, with a line of eager residents almost reaching the entrance of North Forest Park. Each backpack given to eligible participants was filled with pens, pencils, crayons, erasers, scissors, a notebook, folder, ruler, sharpener and a pouch bag.
“Education is the reason I am here,” Rajkumar told QNS. “Because of educational opportunities, I am able to be the Assemblywoman. So I know how important it is, and that’s why we take the school giveaway so seriously. Because it’s all a part of helping the kids generate enthusiasm for school. It’s all part of the plan, which is to make them successful.”
Although the giveaway didn’t begin until 6 p.m., many residents arrived almost an hour early for a chance to receive school supplies. Claudia Zapata, 50, was first in line with her 4 grandkids.
Even though not all of her grandchildren were excited at the thought of returning to classes, Zapata said gaining the supplies from the assemblywoman would go a long way. When QNS asked if the kids were ready for school after receiving the supplies, Zapata said, “of course.”
Sthefany Aucapina, 24, was closer to the end of the line when the backpack giveaway began. Her 5-year-old son begins kindergarten this year and getting help with some of the required name-brand supplies was one of the highlights of the event for her.
The event continued without delay thanks to the help of local civic organizations, including the Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol, members of the Richmond Hill and Ozone Park Lions Club, and the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association.
“I think this is a great event for elected officials and other community organizations to do and especially now, you know, every little bit helps families,” said Martin Colberg, president of WRBA. “Kids go back to school feeling more comfortable with supplies. I know sometimes that can be a challenge for some kids, you know, so I think this is a great thing that Assemblywoman is doing.”
Members of Rajkumar’s staff were also integral to the event’s success, handing out all of the bags they had for the evening. The assemblywoman is also co-sponsoring the Woodhaven Business Improvement District’s back-to-school event on Thursday, Aug. 24.