One of my New Year resolutions this year was to make a monthly donation to a worthy charity and to use this blog to give the charity a little free PR.

I’m a bit behind on that goal, but plan to catch up this month. Today I’m promoting a project that is near and dear to me.

Back to School Store logo

Charity Spotlight – NCJW’s Back To School Store 2009

I’ve been a member of the National Council of Jewish Women for years, and have had the honor of serving as an event co-chair since 2007 for the annual Back To School Store.

Nine years ago, the first St. Louis area Back To School Store served 200 needy children.  This year, 950 children will be outfitted with everything that they need to go back to school.

Back to School Store boy

Back To School Store Basics

On Sunday July 26, 2009, Central Reform Congregation will be transformed into a store. NCJW partners with local churches and social services agencies to identify & invite 950 needy children entering kindergarten through 5th grade.

The parents are directed to a waiting area and each child is assigned a volunteer personal shopper. The children are escorted through the store where they get to pick out an a complete outfit (shirt, pants, socks, underwear, tennis shoes), winter coat, hat, gloves, backpack, school supplies, personal care items and a book.

Everything that the children receive is brand new and stylish.

The mission of the program is to make sure that these children have everything they need to return to elementary school with positive self esteem and excited about learning!

3 Ways for You to Help

Back to School Store girl Make a donation:

Giving 950 kids everything that they need to go back to school prepared to learn costs money. All of the items that the children receive are brand new. We get as much as we can through in-kind donations of goods and the rest is purchased locally in retail stores.

Funding for the project is secured through many charitable foundations and individual donations. Donations of any size are appreciated. We know that times are tough, so even a $1 donation would be welcome if that’s what you feel you can give.

Here’s a breakdown of what your money can help us buy for the kids:

$150 – sponsor a child!

$50 – clothing for 1 child – jeans, long sleeve shirt, 6 socks, 6 underpants, winter coat & tennis shoes

$20 – winter coat

$10 – tennis shoes

$5 – long sleeve shirt

$1 – every little bit adds up…we’ll combine your dollar with other donations to give the kids everything they need!

You can make a secure online donation of any amount or you can contact the NCJW office to make a donation by phone or mail. I’ve made a donation to sponsor a child. Please join me by making a contribution too.

In-kind donations needed:

If you have connections or access for any of the items listed above (clothing, shoes, school supplies, personal care items, backpacks), we would love to talk to you about a sponsorship in exchange for donations of goods.

We also need:

  • Food – Volunteers that work 2 shifts at the store are fed lunch, plus we provide refreshments and snacks for all of our 400 volunteers on the big day! We also need lunch trays, box lunches or pizza to feed 10-15 volunteers each day the week before and after the event, and we have a dinner  for about 50 volunteers who show up the night before the event to help put the final touches on setting up the store. Donations of grocery gift cards, soda, bottled water, and coffee are needed too.
  • Delivery driver and truck – All of the goods that we give out to the kids are stored in a warehouse. On Monday July 20, we need a truck and driver that can transport the goods to the store location. The week after the store, we will need to take some items back to the warehouse plus return borrowed clothing racks to Burlington Coat Factory.
  • Clothing fixtures – We get many of the racks for the clothing from Burlington where we buy most of the coats for the children, but we need additional racks so that there is space to display all of the clothing. If you have racks that can be used in the main store or for excess stock in the back rooms, we would love to talk to you.
  • Security guards – To ensure everyone’s safety, we need 2 security guards or off duty police officers throughout the event day. We have 3 hour shifts available – morning, early afternoon or late afternoon.
  • Hotel style shuttle bus and driver – One of the challenges of our site location is limited parking. We do have access to the parking about 1/3 mile away, and would like a driver that can shuttle volunteers. We don’t really need this all day, just for about 1 hour in the early morning and at volunteer shift changes in the late morning and mid-afternoon.
  • Pipe and drape – We use pipe and drape to create dressing rooms for the boys and girls, and also to create an area for our extra coat stock that hasn’t been brought out the store floor yet.
  • Signage – We need signs and banners throughout t he store to thank sponsors and direct traffic.
  • Videographer – We made a video of the store in 2001 to help promote the store for our funding sources and also to help the agencies that will be sending kids see in advance what is going to happen. Since that first year we only served 200 kids, and this year it will be 950, it’s time to update the video.

Back to School Store boy and volunteerVolunteer:

In order to pull off this event for the kids, we need over 400 volunteers on Sunday July 26, 2009. Morning, midday and late afternoon shifts are available.

  • Personal shoppers – Work 1 on 1 with a few children to help them select their items in the store. This is the best 3 hour volunteer experience you will ever have! Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and about 300 personal shoppers are needed. Male volunteers are also really needed to help the little guys!
  • Behind the scenes on the day of the event – We need people to help on the event day in a variety of functions – traffic control throughout the store, dressing room attendants, shoe fitters and more. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
  • Setup and breakdown – The week before the store we need volunteers Monday – Thursday to help us with setting up the store. We will be un-boxing items, cutting price tags off of clothing, arranging the items by size on racks plus more. The week after the event we need volunteers on Tuesday – Thursday to help us box up the extra items. We work 9-3 each day, but volunteers are welcome to sign up for just a day or even for simply a morning or afternoon shift. Lunch is provided for all volunteers who work an entire day.
  • Teenagers can help too – We can use teenagers too! On the store day, teens can help keep the store well stocked and organized. We also need people to entertain the preschool siblings in the family waiting area and to help the week before and after the event with setup and breakdown. We will happily complete any forms teenagers need to give them credit for community service hours required by their schools or Scouts.

All volunteer activites will be located at Central Reform Congregation in the Central West End off Kingshighway just north of Forest Park. Online volunteer registration will be available soon. In the meantime, email Nancy at NCJW to be added to our volunteer email mailing list.

Spread the Word:

Invite your friends and family to volunteer with you! It’s a great opportunity for parents and teens to do something for others together.

If you agree that this sounds like a worthy event, ask people you know to help out with a donation or to sign up as volunteers! Don’t forget your Facebook and Twitter friends too!