For the last few years, I have volunteered for a charity event that helps disadvantaged kids get ready to go back to school. This year, I am one of the co-chairs of this amazing one day annual event, so I’m going to put out my plug for volunteers and hope you will consider joining us.

On Sunday, July 27, The National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis Section is sponsoring our 8th annual Back To School Store.

Studies have shown that a significant number of low income kids miss the first day of school because they don’t have the clothing, tennis shoes or school supplies that are needed. Our goal is to make sure that every child is ready for the first day of school, and can walk through the school doors excited about learning.

This year, we will be outfitting 875 elementary school kids with everything that they need to be ready for school. The children get to walk through our ‘store’ and select a new outfit, coat, shoes, socks, underwear, hat, gloves, school supplies, backpack, personal hygiene items and a book.

The parents and siblings are directed to a family resource room, and each of the children is paired up one-on-one with a personal shopper volunteer that helps them select the items and try on clothing. As you can imagine, with 875 children invited to the store for this one day event, we need hundreds of volunteers to assist them in the store. We also need volunteers to assist with checking in children and volunteers as they arrive, fitting shoes and coats to make sure we give out the right size, dressing room attendants, and restockers to help keep the supplies well stocked.

Male volunteers are especially needed to help the boys in the store. To work directly with the kids, volunteers need to be 18 years old. However, we can always find a use for teenagers in the behind the scenes work that is needed to get this event off the ground. In fact, this would be a great project for high school students to earn some community service hours that so many schools now require, while having fun and making a big impact on the community too.

This year, we have moved the event one week earlier to Sunday, July 27 so that our families can take advantage of Missouri’s tax free shopping weekend the following weekend to pick up any additional items that they need. The store is located in the Central West End, and you can sign up for either morning, early or late afternoon shifts. We also need volunteers to assist the week before and after the event during the days to help with setup and breakdown. And we’ll happily feed you lunch if you work two shifts in a row on any day!

I’ve done a lot of volunteer work over the years, and this is definitely the most rewarding 3 hours that I’ve ever spent. You’ll leave knowing that you made an impact on the lives of children and their families.

I know that summer is just starting, and Back to School time seems a long time away. But with so many volunteers needed, we are working hard to get this program ready for the kids. To register, contact me or call the NCJW office at 314-993-5181.