BENSONHURST — Hundreds of children will be ready when school opens on Sept. 5, thanks to Reaching-Out Community Services Inc., which distributed free backpacks and school supplies at a late summer event outside its Bensonhurst headquarters on Thursday morning.
Tom Neve, founder and executive director of Reaching-Out, a non-profit organization that assists low-income residents, said more than 700 families signed up for the back-to-school event. “It went wonderfully,” Neve told the Home Reporter on Thursday afternoon.
Neve and an army of volunteers handed out backpacks, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons and other school supplies to the happy and eager kids. Tents were set up on the sidewalk outside Reaching-Out’s offices at 7708 New Utrecht Ave. and children and their parents patiently lined up to have the opportunity to stop at each booth to collect school supplies they needed.
Reaching-Out, which Neve, a retired New York City sanitation worker, founded more than 25 years ago, operates a food pantry for underprivileged families and Neve said he sees the back-to-school backpack giveaway as an extension of the organization’s mission.
“We feed the body, so we think it’s important to feed the mind,” he said. “It’s another way we like to give back to the community.”
Reaching-Out conducts a back-to-school drive every year.
Neve credited the event’s sponsors and volunteers with its success.
The volunteers who helped Neve hand out the school supplies included several members of Midwood High School’s Key Club.
The sponsors who donated funds to help Reaching-Out purchase hundreds of backpacks and school supplies included the Verrazano Rotary Club, Ben-Bay Kiwanis Club, Dime Community Bank, Bensonhurst Center for Health and Rehabilitation and J.L. HVac Inc.
Councilmember Justin Brannan, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst, secured city funding to help Neve with the event.
“These are the people who make it happen. If not for them, I couldn’t do it,” Neve said of Brannan and the sponsors.